AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Police 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.
The man, who has not been identified, was sent to University Medical Center Brackenridge in critical condition. He had been arrested at the Barton Creek Square Mall for shoplifting and possession of a controlled substance.
According to APD Interim Chief Brian Manley, the suspect, in his late teens or early 20s, was talking to an officer in the patrol car about having suicidal thoughts. He then removed a pistol from his waistband and placed it to his head, all while handcuffed.
Officers got out of the car and told the suspect to put the weapon down. After six minutes, the suspect shot himself in the head, according to Manley.
“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.”
APD protocol calls for searching a suspect for weapons before they are placed inside a police vehicle. APD is investigating whether protocol was followed by the officer, who has been with the department for nearly 11 years. An internal affairs investigation has also been launched.
Police told nearby businesses via Twitter there is no reason to worry, or to be concerned about safety.