HOUSTON (AP) – Deputies did not conduct a complete search of a Houston-area high school student who had threatened to hurt himself and failed to find a hidden gun he used to shoot himself with while handcuffed in the back of a patrol car, officials said Thursday.
A full search wasn’t done because the 17-year-old student was not under arrest and had only been detained Wednesday at his campus so authorities could get him help, said Capt. Jon Moore with the Harris County Precinct 3 constable’s office.
“As of right now, preliminarily, there does not appear to be any violation of policy and procedure,” Moore said. “I hate to say mistakes happen. I wish we could say that we did not make mistakes or officers did not, but that might have been what happened.”
The student, a senior whose name was not released, remained in intensive care at a Houston hospital Thursday.
Authorities were alerted Wednesday about the student after he had sent a text message to a friend saying he wanted to hurt himself. The friend told a North Shore High School administrator, who then contacted a deputy with the constable’s office, which provides security on campus, said Jonathan Frey, a spokesman for the Galena Park school district.
The deputy, who was on the 3,000 student campus, found the student in a restroom.
“The student was refusing to obey verbal commands. He was agitated, had not become aggressive. But the deputy was concerned he was so he called for assistance,” Moore said.
A second deputy came and the student was searched, handcuffed and put in the back of a patrol car, Moore said. Only one of the deputies searched the student.
“It was a pat-down frisk, it wasn’t a complete … I run my hands through your waistband, I go all the way down to your socks, take your shoes off type of search because they were not arresting him, they were detaining him,” he said.
The deputies did not know the student might have a weapon, said Moore, who added the student was wearing loose clothing.
“Their concern was getting him to EMS,” he said.
Deputies were driving the student to a hospital when he retrieved a gun he had on him and shot himself in the back of the head.
“How did they miss it? They missed it,” Moore said.
The deputies involved in the incident remain on active duty.
Christina Garza, a spokeswoman for the Harris County sheriff’s office, which is investigating the shooting, said evidence is pointing to the student’s injury being the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound and not an accidental discharge. The sheriff’s office investigation and the internal affairs probe by the constable’s office are still ongoing.
Frey said administrators and constables acted as quickly as possible to get to the student.
“We’re glad this student’s friend came forward and told an administrator their issues and concerns. … Hopefully in the end, they saved this kid’s life,” he said.
Wednesday’s shooting is similar to one in July in Jonesboro, Ark. In that incident, 21-year-old Chavis Carter was in the back of a patrol car when he fatally shot himself in the head while his hands were cuffed behind his back. A state crime lab report concluded that Carter was on meth at the time.
In 2006, Houston police officer Rodney Johnson was fatally shot by a suspect, Juan Leonardo Quintero-Perez, after he had been arrested, handcuffed and placed him in the back of his patrol car after a traffic stop. Johnson apparently missed finding a gun on Quintero-Perez. Quintero-Perez was later convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter:
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- Peak your palate with gameday recipes and beers to match
- 6 reasons the Cardinals are driven to win the Super Bowl
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again