By Sue Britt
NORMANDY, Mo. (Reuters) - An 18-year-old black man died on Thursday from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his face after a confrontation with police in the St. Louis suburb of Normandy, according to police, whose version was disputed by the man's father and some witnesses.
Normandy police and St. Louis County Police said Amonderez Green shot at police with a .38-caliber revolver before running out of sight and apparently shooting himself under the chin. One police officer shot at Green but did not hit him, police said.
Green's father and some witnesses disputed that version of events and believe he was unarmed and shot by police, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. One witness told the newspaper that a man he saw running from police used both hands to climb over fences and did not appear to have a gun.
"If you're going to kill yourself you're not going to run down the street and shoot at the police," an area resident, Dwayne Shearer, 33, told Reuters.
"The assessment at the hospital by emergency room personnel indicated the suspect's only wound was the self-inflicted one. ... None of the Normandy officer's rounds struck the suspect," the St. Louis County Police Department said in a statement.
Police said at least one independent witness saw Green carrying a silver revolver. Police also said the gun belonged to a close friend of the Green family.
Normandy, which has 5,000 residents, is just south of Ferguson, which became the focus of protests against racial profiling and police treatment of minorities after a white policeman fatally shot an unarmed 18-year-old African-American in August 2014 in an incident that was later ruled justified.
Normandy Police Department Corporal Tameika Sanders told Reuters that Green was distraught and suicidal on Wednesday and walked 4 miles (6 km) through the Ferguson area with his family trailing him in two cars to monitor him.
The family requested help from police in Ferguson and Normandy, but Green was uncooperative with police and family members, said statements from Normandy and St. Louis County police.
Green's father, mother and his mother's boyfriend were present at least part of the time while police tried to communicate with Green, St. Louis County police said.
About 2 p.m., Green took out a gun and fired at the officers, hitting at least one house in the neighborhood. Police initially tried to use a Taser against him, the police statements said.
After Green shot himself, he was taken to the hospital in critical condition and was pronounced dead at 4:29 a.m. on Thursday, police said.
The race of the officers in the incident was not immediately known.
(Reporting by Sue Britt in Normandy; Additional reporting and writing by Fiona Ortiz in Chicago; Editing by Peter Cooney and Simon Cameron-Moore)