ST. LOUIS COUNTY • A man who officials said died in 2013 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound was actually killed by Florissant police, a suit filed in federal court on behalf of the dead man’s daughters alleges.
Abayomi “Alan” Afolabi, 44, died on Oct. 20, 2013, in his driveway in the 10100 block of Winkler Drive in an unincorporated area of north St. Louis County. Florissant police went to the home after an earlier domestic disturbance call at his ex-wife’s house. St. Louis County police told media at the time that Afolabi brandished a gun at the officers, who opened fire. He was hit in the arm and the side but died of a self-inflicted shot to the head, police said.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in St. Louis on Tuesday, does not mention a self-inflicted wound. It says that Afolabi was seated in the driver’s seat of his vehicle and officers Joshua Smith and Andrew Gerwitz opened fire. It notes that the officers are white and Afolabi is black, and that the officers “used excessive and unreasonable force.” The suit says Afolabi was not resisting arrest nor did he pose a threat to the officers.
The suit against Florissant, the county and the individual officers seeks compensatory and punitive damages for two of Afolabi’s minor daughters through their mother, his ex-wife Tamonique Grady.
Grady’s attorney, James W. Schottel Jr., says the police report has several red flags, and it is unclear whether police recovered the bullet that went through Afolabi’s head. They were the same caliber as the officer’s bullets but the bullets weren’t tested to see which guns they came from, he said. He also said investigators did not test Afolabi’s hands for gunshot residue. A gun was found on the floorboard, the police report says, and the medical examiner’s office ruled the death a suicide.
“It was an investigation tailored to protect these officers,” Schottel said.
The suit also alleges that St. Louis County Police Detectives Tom Lasater, Joe Percich, Patrick Hokamp and Chris Most searched Afolabi’s home without consent, probable cause or a warrant, and that they seized a gun case and bullets from the home. They obtained a consent to search from Afolabi’s girlfriend after the search, even though she had no ownership interest in the home, the suit alleges.
An attorney with St. Louis County could not be reached for comment Wednesday night. Florissant attorney John Hessel said he had no knowledge of the facts of the case, hadn’t talked to his clients about it and could not comment.