Flanders Shooting Suspect Had Prior Drug Case Overturned

Flanders Shooting
Kwame Opoku (left) and Emmanuel Lee Coleman (right) were arrested Wednesday in a shooting that left a 36-year-old man in critical condition.

Two men were arrested Wednesday in connection with a shooting that left a 36-year-old man in critical condition, including one suspect who was released from prison after a prior drug conviction was overturned, Southampton Town police said.

Both men, 32-year-old Kwame Opoku of Mastic Beach and 34-year-old Emmanuel Lee Coleman of Riverhead, were charged with first-degree assault. Opoku has a pending lawsuit against Southampton Town police related to the prior arrest.

Police said they received several reports of gunshots in the area of McKinley Street in Flanders at 3:08 p.m. It appeared that the victim, who has not been identified, was shot while standing in front of his residence, police said.

After the shooting, two men were seen fleeing in a white Chrysler, police said.

Southampton Town police, New York State police, along with a K-9 unit, as well as Westhampton Beach police all responded. Suffolk County police assisted by providing air support. Southampton Town police officers arrested the two men after spotting the Chrysler near Spinney Road and Route 24 in Flanders, police said.

An investigation following the shooting determined that Opoku was allegedly involved in a “verbal altercation” with the victim earlier in the day, which “subsequently led to the assault,” police said.

Opoku was also charged with criminal possession of a weapon, criminal use of a firearm, and reckless endangerment. Coleman was also found to be violating parole, police said.

Both men were held overnight at police headquarters and were scheduled to be arraigned at Southampton Town Justice Court on Thursday morning.

Opoku’s arrest comes two years after his conviction was overturned in a drug case. Opoku was one of seven people whose convictions were overturned by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office following allegations that one of the arresting officers, Eric Sickles, was a drug addict, according to Newsday.

Opoku spent seven months in 2011 behind bars after his arrest and conviction on drug charges. He later sued Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota for withholding information about Sickles’ alleged drug addiction. As a result, he suffered physical harm, mental anguish and was deprived of his constitutional rights, according to court documents in the case.

Spota’s attorneys filed a motion in the case saying that Opoku failed to state a claim, and never in his lawsuit did he say when Spota became aware of Sickles’ alleged drug addiction.

In a letter sent to the judge overseeing the case last month, Opoku’s lawyer said his client decided to drop the lawsuit. No explanation was given.

A separate lawsuit was filed against Southampton Town and its police department alleging that Sickles, then a member of the now-disbanded Street Crimes Unit, and other officers conducted a warrantless search of his Southampton home in the early morning hours of Jan. 19, 2011.

Opoku has alleged that he was falsely arrested after police illegally planted drugs on him.

Kwame Opoku vs. Thomas Spota

Kwame Opoku vs. Southamton Town Police