16 Year Old Pays Price For “Officer Safety”

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Tragic story by Curt Williams over at CopBlock:

The story of Andrew Messina has been making its rounds via the MSM and it’s about time. Andrew is becoming a household name and the news about the events of May 1, 2012 is reaching the ears of a lot of people. I have written about this in the past (read here) and since then a lot of new details have come to light. For those readers that are not familiar with what happened to Andrew, allow me to get you caught up.

On May 1st of this year 16 yr old Andrew Messina had a bad day. Like a lot of teens, school played a big part. Andrew had talked with his father, Nick Messina, about his troubles. He expressed his thoughts of wanting to run away and soon the conversation turned to Andrew stating he wanted to take his own life.

“He just got sad and kind of down on himself and talked about running away. And that discussion turned to ending his life. And I wasn’t home,” Nick Messina said.

“It just happened so fast, and then he went upstairs. He has the gun in his hand, and he had bullets in the other hand,” Lisa Messina continued. Scared for her son’s well being, Lisa Messina called 911. What happened next was not what Lisa Messina expected at all.

“They brought an army to take out a 16-year-old boy. To kill a 16-year-old boy,” Nick Messina said.

An army of officers, an armored vehicle, riot cops and a sniper were brought to diffuse the situation. We must ask ourselves, was all this needed? Nick Messina stated “We thought that they would (be) experts in being able to diffuse the situation. And that was not what happened. Instead of the fire being put out, they brought gasoline”. Indeed they did bring gasoline. There is no doubt in my mind that upon seeing this “army” of officers, riot cops and an armored vehicle, that Andrew did not feel safe. This, I can only imagine, terrified young Andrew.

Inside the home alone with a .357 and said to be drinking, the tension rose. Andrew spoke with his father briefly before the fatal shot.

Nick Messina: “You can’t find anything worth living for with me?”

Andrew: “I don’t know,”

Nick Messina: “Really?”

Andrew: “I do know personally I really don’t want to live. So you should just let this happen if you really love me,”

Negotiators cut the call off at that point. Having been that teen who wants to take his own life, I see the response of “I don’t know” when asked by his father “You can’t find anything worth living for with me?” as a sign that Andrew was in fact just having a rough time and that maybe there was hope for him in this situation. Meaning he did not REALLY want to die. It may have felt like it at the time, but his response “I don’t know” told me he wasn’t sure he wanted to kill himself. Why did the negotiators cut off the dialogue between Andrew and his father even though his parents were just a few feet away. Were the officers anxious to quell the situation? Did they want to be the ones to put an end to this rather than his parents? Andrew didn’t have to die!

What happened next would turn the Messina family upside down. Andrew standing at the front door tapped one of the panes of glass which broke. This sound of glass breaking was described by officer Joseph Yarbrough, the sniper, as a “pop, that sounded like a gun shot”. This is ridiculous in my opinion. There is quite a difference in the sound of a .357 and glass breaking. Yarbrough also claims that he “observed Messina through his rifle scope pointing the weapon at deputies”. This is false. Andrew had his back to the negotiation team when he was shot, or so the entrance and exit of the bullet shows.

Contrary to what Yarbrough stated about this “pop”, “Not a single officer out there, not a one, ever saw the gun come through the hole where the break was,” attorney Chuck Pekor said.

CBS Atalanta reports, “The autopsy report says Andrew was shot in the right side of his abdomen, and the bullet exited the left side. According to that description, the teen was facing the opposite direction from where negotiators were outside the home.”

The sniper, Yarbrough, admitted he didn’t even know if there was a hostage inside.

Yarbrough was not properly informed regarding the details of the situation. He did not know that Andrew was alone or if there were hostages. Information that was vital. He took the shot anyway.

Yarbrough set up across the street in a neighbor’s yard.

“I couldn’t believe the gun he had,” Lisa Messina said. “I said, ‘Whoa, where is he going with that gun?’”

“A minute later we heard this horrendous cannon shot and he was dead,” Nick Messina said.

There are so many questions still surrounding the tragic events of May 1st 2012.

Why so quick to pull the trigger?

Why cut off communication to his parents?

Why was the sniper not informed of the details of the situation?

Why was Andrew treated like a criminal, when actually he was the victim?

Does it really matter that Andrew found his fathers gun? I don’t think so. How many other cases have there been where the situation was much more serious with hostages involved and the situation is remedied with not one person dead.

As a parent of teenagers, I am well versed in the daily troubles they face as I have been through them. This was a situation that should not have been rushed. As the Messina’s attorney states “There is nobody in there with him. There is nobody at risk except himself. You just give it time, just wait.” I couldn’t agree more.

Andrew Messina, did he have to die?

Is it “justice” when the man who killed him – Joseph Yarbrough – has so quickly and casually been cleared of wrongdoing?

Please go to Justice For Andrew on Facebook as well as Change.org to sign the petition to bring about changes in procedure to protect juveniles from deadly force at the hands of law enforcement.

And feel free to call Yarbrough to share with him your thoughts on his actions.

Cherokee County (Georgia) Sheriff’s Department
Joseph Yarbrough (sniper) jyarbrough@cherokeega.com
Roger Garrison (sheriff) rdgarrison@cherokeega.com
(678) 493-4100


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  1. It is not uncommon for teens, especially ones of Andrew’s age, to have bouts of suicidal doubts; these. as mentioned above, pass – sometimes with talk or just simply time to calm down and let typical teen brain chemistry “settle down” – and all cops should be aware of that. The fact that the sniper was unaware of the details of the situation indicates that he didn’t ask, hince it can be reasonably assumed that he wasn’t concerned if he SHOULD take the shot, but rather only if he COULD take the shot. Yay, one shot/one kill, his perfect record still stands! The kind of man who is unconcerned with the details of a situation does not belong on a civilian armed force; it isn’t the Army in a battle situation that sometimes requires the sniper to shoot first and ask questions later. In that situation, it is usually clear who the enemy is, and even if not, everyone in the area pretty much knows to proceed with caution, clear out or at least throw their hands up and exactly follow the instructions of the man with the gun.

    This was far from that situation, and no actual threat to anyone was made or even indicated. So he had a gun – so what? He hadn’t pointed at anyone but (likely) himself. So now the Gov’t has taken away even the right (?) to take your own life by insisting on doing it themselves? If these people think that’s the case, then they can’t possibly have the slightest respect for any other right we claim as free men, for what can be more intimate between one and one’s self, one’s loved ones and one’s God than the thought of taking one’s own life? And yet this governmental force would intervene and claim the right to even that final decision. THAT’S much more mentally twisted than even suicide itself.

  2. As Will Grigg said, there’s no situation so bad that calling a cop can’t make it worse.

    I simply could not believe this story when I read it yesterday.

    As a father, you can only imagine how I would react in this situation. Fortunately I’d never be foolish enough to involve the State…this poor, naive man did. I cry for him.

    • For the rest of their lives, they’ll damn themselves for having called the cops. Probably, that kid would have calmed down after a few hours of being left alone – or gently persuaded by his family. In any event, from what I read, he did not seem bent on harming anyone else – just himself.

      And for that, was summarily executed.

      • Eric, he was more than likely depressed and suicidal due to the programming and peer pressure (or abuse) he was forced to accept at child prison (a.k.a. publik skule). If he’d been left alone and his parents were able to reach him, they may have found out what was really eating him. Then they might have decided to (gasp) pull him out of school and teach him at home! We can’t have that.

        The “system” won’t get a good crop of obeisant and compliant citizen / soldier / cop / worker drones when the intended victims are pulled from their clutches, learn critical thinking and are exposed to uncontrolled history and the truth. No, they end up with recalcitrant people like us; worse yet *literate* recalitrant individualists that often won’t comply. I think the “system” would rather respond by shooting people on sight, than risk having more folks like the group that gathers here.

        After all free thinkers are a bad influence on the rest of the inmates. We point out all the indicators that Americans are already living in a national prison. And when the gun-vernment responds to a depressed teenager for exhibiting suicidal tendencies by summarily executing him it puts the lie to the whole “protect and serve” facade and reinforces our position. It goes to show you what they do to inmates that try to escape, even by killing themselves; they kill you first.

    • Will Grigg is absolutely right with that statement. Not all cops are bad but enough definitely are to make it not worth gambling which you will encounter.

      I see a different trend occuring too, the creation of crimes against parents for not calling police and reporting things in a specified timeframe.
      I wonder if andrew’s parents hadn’t called 911 and he had shot himself, I bet the state would have gone after them for not calling the 5-0 right away.
      They would seek “justice” against the parents for not calling in the guv-thugs but if the guv-thugs actually commit the violent act then they are not in the wrong.
      The legal and moral gymnastics that go in these sociopaths heads is amazing to me.

      • Harry I don’t think it’s accidental. I think at the highest levels, the perversion of intellect is so extreme that they LIKE it, they ENJOY the Catch-22’s they foist on their sheep.

        I’m having a really hard time with this one. It’s almost identical to that cowardly killer Len Horiuchi who murdered Vicki Weaver while she held her baby in her arms.

        I think–I don’t know because god forbid I’m ever put in the position–but I think I could not rest until I had reciprocated.

        They say seeking revenge engenders bitterness, and that it never “puts things right”.

        Well maybe not for the victims…but if fathers sought justice at all personal cost in these situations, the thugs would hesitate to act next time.

        At the very least their numbers would dwindle.

        I made the mistake of reading this story yesterday while my 16-month-old son was toddling around in the room. I can’t describe how powerfully it moved me.

        • I know what you mean, I just read it while me and my wife were feeding our 14 month old son lunch hunkered down waiting for Sandy to finish her destruction.
          I realize revenge won’t fix anything, but neither will anything else. I don’t want to think about how I would react.
          Stuff like this makes me think of a movie I saw a few years ago, Law Abiding Citizen.

        • Methyl’, you make a good point against gun control; if more people actually carried guns, even hardened criminals would be less likely to attack, even not knowing whether or not their proposed victim was armed. (but that’s a different topic.)

          As for revenge, if acted upon instantly, wouldn’t it be “temporary insanity” from sheer rage/outrage? I would think so, as most people would. (Read “A Time to Kill” or at least see the movie.)


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