AUSTIN, Texas — Police in Austin are investigating how a suspect handcuffed inside a patrol car was able to pull out a gun and shoot himself.
Medics responded to the scene at Sixth Street and Lavaca Street around 1:17 p.m. Sunday, reported KXAN.
The man, who has not been identified, was arrested at the Barton Creek Square Mall for shoplifting and possession of a controlled substance. Officers cuffed the suspect and placed him inside a patrol car and were headed to police headquarters, reported NY Daily News.
During the 6-minute ride, the suspect expressed suicidal thoughts. When the arresting officer asked him if he was armed, the man replied, yes. The suspect then managed to pull out a pistol from his waistband — while still handcuffed — to shoot himself in the head, said Austin Police Department Interim Chief Brian Manley.
After discovering the handcuffed suspect was armed, officers got out of the car and tried to convince him to put the weapon down. This lasted about six minutes before the arrestee shot himself in the head, according to Manley.
After the self-inflicted gunshot wound, the man in his late teens was transported to the University Medical Center Brackenridge. He is listed in critical condition.
“Absolutely there was a danger [to the police officer]” Manley said. “If this individual had chosen to remove that weapon and fire at the officer instead of saying something, we could be here discussing a very different incident here today.”
An internal affairs investigation has been launched as department protocol required the suspect to be adequately searched prior to being placed in the patrol car. The chief confirmed the incident was captured on video. He also revealed the officer in question has been with the department for nearly 11 years.
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