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Teen was handcuffed in a police car, Ohio cops say. How did he fatally shoot himself?

Authorities say an Ohio teen was handcuffed in a police cruiser when he shot himself in the head.
Authorities say an Ohio teen was handcuffed in a police cruiser when he shot himself in the head. MCT

It didn’t take long for Akron, Ohio police to catch up to Xavier McMullen, 17, and two other young men suspected of robbing a couple at gunpoint, according to the Akron Beacon Journal.

Police arrived at the suspects’ home in August after neighbors identified their residence on a 911 call, the newspaper reported.

Officers put them each in a separate police vehicle, the newspaper said. McMullen’s hands were handcuffed behind his back as he sat in the back of a patrol car, authorities said, according to Cleveland.com.

But somehow the teen managed to shoot himself in the head, according to authorities. Officials ruled McMullen’s death a suicide, the Beacon Journal reported.

McMullen’s family struggled to understand how a person whose hands are restrained would be able to shoot himself in the head.

“But maybe, if he had a gun on him, he was trying to get it off of him and while wiggling and struggling, the trigger pulled,” his older brother, Greg Wiley, had told Cleveland.com. “I’d understand a gunshot wound to his back, stomach, something like that. But not the head – how is that possible?”

Wiley also questioned why his brother wasn’t patted down properly, Cleveland.com reported.

“The cops did not do their job. I feel the cops took my brother.”

McMullen’s mother, Lisa Carswell, had told FOX 8 that she found out about her son’s death from the boy’s friends and the news – not police.

“I don’t get it … how are the protecting and serving, when they couldn’t protect one kid,” Carswell said.

Witnesses allege police didn’t check on McMullen for several minutes after they reported hearing gunshots, FOX 8 said.

The news station reported Monday that a police officer didn’t thoroughly search McMullen before the teen was placed in the car. Documents show that the cop has been disciplined— he will lose three days’ pay — for not properly searching the teen, FOX 8 said.

Capt. Jesse Leeser declined to discuss the department’s pat-down procedures, Cleveland.com reported in August.

“It all depends on the circumstances,” Leeser said. “It’s hard just to say, ‘every time you do it this way.’ It’s a rapidly evolving situation.”

McMullen’s family still wants answers and are considering filing a lawsuit, their attorney, Laura Mills, told FOX 8.

The department didn’t immediately respond Monday to a request by McClatchy seeking comment.

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