Police: 5-year-old girl was in back seat during fatal confrontation between officer, suspect


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ST. LOUIS — A 5-year-old girl was in the back seat of a car as a St. Louis-area police officer shot a suspect who later died, police said Monday.

Thomas Allen Jr., 34, of St. Louis, died Sunday, one day after he was shot three times by a police officer in the St. Louis County town of Wellston. It was the seventh fatal shooting of a suspect by a St. Louis-area police officer since 18-year-old Michael Brown was killed by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9.

St. Louis County Police spokesman Brian Schellman said the Wellston officer saw a car fail to signal and make an improper left turn, nearly causing an accident, around 10:15 a.m. Saturday.

The officer stopped the car, which was occupied by a male driver, two other men and the driver's 5-year-old daughter. Allen and the girl were in the back seat.

Schellman said the officer searched the car for weapons after seeing Allen act suspiciously, but found none.

Allen and the girl remained in the back seat as the driver and the front seat passenger were out of the vehicle talking with police. Schellman said Allen then climbed into the front seat and tried to drive away.

The officer jumped in. Schellman said Allen rapidly accelerated. As he made a turn, "the officer discharged his pistol three times at the driver in fear of his life as well as the life of the juvenile female in the rear seat," Schellman said.

The car left the road, crossed an empty lot and struck the foundation of a home. No one inside the home was hurt.

Allen was critically hurt and died on Sunday. The officer was treated at a hospital for minor leg injuries. The child was unhurt.

Unlike most of the previous police-involved shootings, this one did not lead to any significant protests, though the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that nine people gathered outside Wellston police headquarters Sunday, saying they were seeking more information.

The officer's name was not released. Schellman said he has worked for the Wellston department for eight years. An investigation continues.

Wellston, with about 2,300 residents, is six miles from Ferguson.

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