Widow files wrongful death lawsuit against city and Trenton police
The wife of a man who was shot and killed by an off-duty cop two years ago has filed a civil lawsuit against the city and the police department.
Kristi Williams, identified in court documents as the widow of Alfred Toe, filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging that TPD Officer Sheehan Miles drank alcohol and “possibly” smoked marijuana prior to shooting Toe in the chest on August 27, 2016.
Most of the information contained in the lawsuit aligns with what law enforcement officials previously told the press, except for two key matters: the suit claims that there was no physical contact nor struggle between Toe and Miles prior to the gun discharging, and alleges that Miles was intoxicated at the time of the fatal encounter.
Toe, 34, was shot and killed around 9:50 p.m. that night while attending a post-funeral gathering in the 500 block of Roosevelt Street. The lawsuit says Toe started arguing with someone else at the event and grabbed a gun out of his brother Constantine’s car. Constantine then confronted Alfred, documents state, which sparked a struggle during which time the gun “accidentally” fired, with a bullet striking Constantine’s hand.
The lawsuit says Constantine had the situation under control and had retrieved the weapon from Alfred before Miles, who was also an attendee at the post-funeral gathering, approached them.
According to the deadly force report issued by the county prosecutor’s office, Miles ordered Constantine onto the ground and confiscated the handgun he took from his brother. The officer was then holding both handguns, prosecutors say, when Alfred tried to grab one of the weapons from him. The report says “several witnesses” told law enforcement that Toe ignored commands to stand down, and that Miles actually punched Toe to create distance between the two of them.
However, Alfred continued to disregard verbal commands and “persisted in his attempt to disarm” the cop, according to the prosecutor’s report, which says Miles “felt that he was losing his grip on the loaded firearm and fired one round,” striking Alfred in the chest.
The lawsuit, however, disputes that account and claims Miles shot Alfred while telling him to “stand back” away from his brother, whom was on the ground being arrested.
“Miles did not even finish the phrase when his weapon discharged and he shot Alfred Toe,” the lawsuit alleges. “There was no struggle between Miles and Alfred Toe.”
The suit says Toe was at least five feet away from Miles when he was shot in the chest, and that law enforcement conspired to cover up what truly happened that night by not testing the cop for alcohol and marijuana.
The county prosecutor’s office officially concluded that Miles was legally justified in using deadly force, as “he was acting to protect himself and others from imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm.”
The report says that conclusion is based on statements from officers and witnesses, radio transmissions, body camera footage, photographs and physical evidence gathered at the scene.
The Attorney General’s Office reviewed the prosecutor’s investigation and agreed with the conclusion of justified deadly force, therefore the case was never presented to a grand jury.
Miles has since returned to the streets.
TPD and the prosecutor’s office declined to comment on pending litigation.
Toe’s widow is being represented by attorney Patrick Whalen.