UK & World News
Handcuffed Teen 'Shot Himself' In Police Car
A teenage suspect who was handcuffed behind his back fatally shot himself in the head while in the back of a police car despite being frisked, officers believe.
Jesus Huerta's handgun was not spotted by police and a dispatcher did not tell officers who were earlier searching for him that he had previously tried to kill himself.
This was despite the 17-year-old's family giving a 911 operator that information on the night he went missing in Durham, North Carolina, said Captain Laura Clayton.
Jamie Huerta, the victim's sister-in-law, said the revelation that Jesus was flexible enough to shoot himself in the head with handcuffs behind his back was ridiculous.
"That doesn't make sense. There's no way some can determine if he was flexible enough," she said, according to The Durham News.
A medical examiner said Jesus died from a gunshot wound through the mouth, was found slumped slightly to his left and the gun was on the passenger side floor.
The bullet was found in the right backseat roof of the car.
Officer Samuel Duncan had arrested Jesus on an outstanding trespassing warrant on November 19 after his relatives said he walked away from home following an argument.
The policeman handcuffed him, did a "cursory search", patted down his trousers and checked his pockets but did not find the weapon.
Captain Clayton said while in the car Jesus tried to drop his handcuffed hands behind his knees, and Officer Duncan told him to stop.
Jesus continued to try to do that as the patrol car headed to the Durham police station, only a mile away, reported wnct.com.
Officer Duncan heard something rubbing against the hard back seat of his car but thought it was the sound of handcuffs, said The Durham News.
But ABC News reported Officer Duncan assumed Jesus was trying to possibly get rid of drugs he might be carrying.
The policeman said he would have searched the teenager again but did not do so because at that point he was close to the headquarters, Ms Clayton added.
On arrival at the station, Officer Duncan heard a gunshot in the back. He jumped out of the car and the vehicle crashed.
Ms Clayton said the car's internal video was not turned on at the time.
Police said they found gunpowder residue on a glove that Jesus was wearing and none on the arresting officer's hand.
Deputy Chief Anthony Marsh said: "Mr Huerta had a handgun on him. Officer (Samuel) Duncan did not notice the handgun. Mr Huerta shot himself with that gun."
He added: "Someone with that degree of flexibility and motivation could intentionally harm themselves with a gun.
"At this point all the evidence suggest he died of a self-inflicted gunshot would in the back of that police car."
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