Police say 18-year-old shot self after officer confrontation

AP News
|
Posted: Oct 29, 2015 5:47 PM
Police say 18-year-old shot self after officer confrontation

NORMANDY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities investigating the death of an 18-year-old who police say exchanged gunfire with an officer said Thursday the St. Louis-area officer's shots never hit him, even as his father questioned an account by the local police department that his son killed himself.

Amonderez Green of Florissant died early Thursday, 14 hours after a confrontation with a Normandy officer. Normandy police say Green and an officer exchanged gunfire but neither was struck. They say Green was suicidal, and ran a short ways before shooting himself.

St. Louis County police are investigating at Normandy's request. County police spokesman Brian Schellman stopped short of declaring Green's death a suicide, saying ballistics testing and an autopsy are pending. But he said Green was not struck by any bullets fired by the Normandy officer.

Green's father, Jermell Simpson, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that reports of suicide are "a total lie."

The confrontation was near Ferguson, still on edge 14 months after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, 18, who was black and unarmed.

Green also was black. The Normandy officer, a 12-year veteran of the department, is white. He is on paid administrative leave pending the investigation.

Normandy police Cpl. Tameika Sanders said there was no question that Green killed himself.

"Mr. Green was never struck by law enforcement gunfire," Sanders said. "That's factual information."

Simpson said although his son had been upset before the shooting, Simpson and other relatives told a responding officer they "had it covered." Simpson did not return messages left Thursday by The Associated Press.

Videos posted to YouTube and other social media sites also questioned the police account of suicide, with some witnesses claiming officers shot Green. But one of them, Dominique Clemons, when reached by The Associated Press, said she would no longer discuss what she saw because the media had misconstrued her earlier comments. She declined to say what was misrepresented.

The incident began around 2 p.m. Wednesday when relatives of Green called police "seeking police and medical intervention," police said. St. Louis County, which handles dispatch services for Normandy, refused to release audio of the 911 call, citing the ongoing investigation.

When confronted by police, Green produced a silver .38-caliber revolver and fired one shot at the Normandy officer, Schellman said. The officer, his handgun still holstered, tried unsuccessfully to subdue Green with a stun gun, then pulled his own gun and fired three shots. All three missed, Schellman said.

Green ran and officers chased him on foot before momentarily losing sight of him, police said. Officers heard one additional gunshot and found Green in another yard "suffering from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound located under the chin," Schellman said.

Emergency room workers who later treated Green concluded his only injury "was the self-inflicted one," Schellman said.

Police determined that the gun found near Green belonged to a close family friend. Schellman said four spent shell casings and two live rounds were found in the gun.

Three homes that were behind the officers who chased Green were hit by gunfire, with a bullet from one of those residences proven by lab testing to be fired from Green's gun, Schellman said.

Normandy officers do not have body cameras, which activists increasingly have demanded to be used by police after Brown's death last year in Ferguson.

Brown was shot by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson during a confrontation on a street on Aug. 9, 2014. A St. Louis County grand jury and the Justice Department later cleared Wilson, concluding evidence backed his claim that he shot Brown in self-defense. Wilson resigned in November.

Brown's death helped fuel the national "Black Lives Matter" movement rebuking police treatment of minorities.