Man shoots himself while handcuffed in APD patrol car

Austin Police are searching for answers after a man shot himself in the head while in custody and in handcuffs in Downtown Austin Sunday afternoon. It happened in a patrol car, right outside of a busy bar and partially shut down sixth street.

Around noon police were called to Barton Creek Mall, where they took the man, possibly a teen, into custody for shoplifting and possession of a controlled substance.

Police say he refused to identify himself, and they suspected he may have had warrants, so they arrested him to take him to APD Headquarters for fingerprints.

What could have been a routine transport turned into a dangerous situation while the patrol car was stopped on Lavaca Street near 6th Street.

“A conversation occurred between the individual that was arrested and the officer that was transporting him. The individual in the back seat was discussing suicidal ideations,” Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said.

At that point, Chief Manley says that despite handcuffs, the suspect managed to pull a gun from his waistband and point it at his own head. The officer inside the car used his radio to call for help and quickly got out of the vehicle.

“This was occurring right outside of a bar that was crowded with patrons watching a football game at this time, so the officers were trying to get people a safe distance away from the scene, while actively handling what was happening,” Manley said.

After officers tried to talk the man down for about six minutes, the suspect shot himself in the head. Now the burning question is whether or not he was searched.

“That’s part of the ongoing investigation,” said Manley.

As that internal investigation continues, Chief Manley says he’s thankful none of the officers or nearby patrons were hurt.

“If this individual had chosen to remove that weapon and fire it at the officer instead, without saying something, we could be discussing a very different incident here today,” Manley said.

The shooting was captured on camera inside the patrol car, and the video is part of the ongoing investigation. The man who shot himself was taken to Brackenridge Hospital in life-threatening condition.

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