CRIME
10/28/2015 07:56 pm ET Updated Oct 29, 2015

Police Say Teen Fatally Shot Himself Near Ferguson

Authorities say 18-year-old Amonderez Green shot himself, but witnesses disagree.

NORMANDY, Missouri -- Authorities say an 18-year-old died from a "self-inflicted gunshot wound" early Thursday after exchanging gunfire with police officers in the St. Louis suburb of Normandy.

St. Louis County Police Department said in a statement Thursday that Amonderez P. Green, of Florissant, Missouri, shot himself under the chin Wednesday afternoon after being confronted by police officers from Normandy and nearby Ferguson. 

The department, which is assisting Normandy police with the investigation, said police were contacted by Green's family and that initial reports indicated he was suicidal. The statement said the officers tried repeatedly to communicate with Green in the presence of his family members. Green continued to walk for some time, eventually removing a silver revolver from his waistband and starting to fire at the officers. One of the officers deployed a Taser on Green, and after that proved ineffective, the same officer fired his gun three times. The department said Green fired another shot while fleeing and that the officers briefly lost sight of him. Soon after, they heard one final shot.

The officers then found Green on the ground, "suffering from what appeared to be a self inflicted gunshot wound located under the chin," according to the St. Louis County police statement. 

Green was pronounced dead at 4:29 AM on Thursday, the department said. The statement added that "an autopsy is pending" but that an examination at the emergency room showed that Green's "only wound was the self inflicted one."

 

However, people claiming to have witnessed the incident told a different story.

A woman who says she saw the shooting, but asked to remain anonymous due to concerns about safety and the potential repercussions of speaking publicly, told HuffPost Wednesday that she saw two officers on the scene with Green. (Cpl. Tameika Sanders of the Normandy Police Department also said at a press conference Wednesday that two officers were involved.)

The woman said she was looking out her window when she saw Green -- who was wearing a red, orange and yellow jacket -- turn to face the officers, who were just six or seven feet away from him. One of them then shot him in the face, she said.

"We heard approximately six gunshots ring out. I yelled and told my daughter to get down," she said.

"He was right at eye level as [the officer] shot him," the woman continued. "It was not a suicide. At all."

Dominique Clemons, who says she witnessed the incident from about three houses up the street, also told HuffPost that the police shot the teenager.

"While he was running, he turned around to face the police and that's when he got shot in the face," she said Wednesday. "I saw his body drop. They shot him in the face, his whole right side of his face was gone, his top lip was gone."

In a video of the scene that Clemons reposted on Twitter, a gunshot can be heard, as well as a man yelling "don't shoot me" and "don't kill me, oh God."

Deron Smith told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Wednesday that he saw Green running from the officers, but that he didn't appear to be holding a gun because he was using two hands to scale a fence.

Normandy Chief of Police Col. Frank Mininni told HuffPost that his department asked St. Louis County police to help probe the incident.

"In light of the fact that a Normandy Police Officer returned fire on the suspect after being fired upon, we immediately requested an outside, independent investigation from the St., Louis County Police Department," he said. "This decision was based upon transparency and an unbiased investigation from an outside department."

Jermell Simpson, the victim's father, was distraught.

"I apologize for cussin', but that's the only damn son I got," he said in a video posted to Instagram Wednesday night. "When he started running, Ferguson [police] started shooting." (A photographer at the St. Louis American, which partners with HuffPost in the region, confirmed the man in the video is the father.)

 Simpson later told the Post-Dispatch that the authorities' account of events was a "total lie."

A video posted by @_beyonddoubt on

Ferguson is the town where Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen, was shot dead by Officer Darren Wilson last year, sparking protests across the nation. Wilson did not face charges in Brown's killing.

Normandy has a population of about 5,000 that is more than two-thirds black, though the town's police force is predominantly white. 

Raillan Brooks and Willa Frej contributed reporting.

HuffPost's Mariah Stewart reported from Normandy thanks to reader support of the Ferguson Fellowship. Click here to back more reporting in the region. Read Stewart's profile of Normandy, published last April. 

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