AUSTIN, Texas -- A Texas man who managed to pull a handgun from his waistband and shoot himself in the head while handcuffed in the back of a police patrol car died of his wound Monday, one day after the shooting.
An Austin police statement confirmed that Zachary Khabir Anam, 19, died at University Medical Center-Brackenridge, according to an Austin police statement.
Anam was taken into custody at the Barton Creek Square shopping mall around midday Sunday, where private security officers detained him on suspicion of shoplifting and carrying a controlled substance. Interim police Chief Brian Manley said Anam was handcuffed and placed in the back seat of a patrol car for the ride to police headquarters downtown. En route, Anam managed to reach his manacled hands round his right side, grabbed a handgun hidden in a rear waistband, and pointed the weapon at his own head with threats to shoot himself, Manley said.
“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 in a press conference Sunday after the shooting, CBS affiliate KEYE reported.
The officer at the wheel, who was not identified, stopped the car, got out and ordered Anam to drop the gun. Back and forth the threats and demands went for six minutes until Anam shot himself, Manley said. The confrontation was recorded on the dashboard camera of a police patrol car trailing the one containing Anam, Manley said.
A police spokeswoman would say whether Anam had been searched thoroughly for weapons, and Manley said that would be a focus of the internal investigation being conducted Monday.
According to former police officer and active lawyer, Jamie Balagia, it is an officer’s legal responsibility to make sure the person they arrest is safe, KEYE reported.
“A cop missed a gun … unacceptable,” said Balagia.
Even if the suspect had been searched and handcuffed previously by private security officers, Austin Police Department policy holds each officer responsible for searching each person taken into custody for weapons.
Anam had run afoul of the law previously. In April 2016, he was arrested on a drug possession charge in Buda, about 15 miles southwest of Austin. That case remained open. At the end of May 2016, Austin police issued a warrant accusing him of engaging in organized criminal activity involving a string of burglaries and auto thefts. The warrant hadn’t been served yet.
The officer who had custody of Anam has been on the force for 11 years.