Ohio Police Claim Teen Committed Suicide While Handcuffed In The Back Of A Squad Car
The family of an Ohio teen who died after being put in the back of a squad car wants “the real truth,” from authorities. Xavier McMullen was found dead on Friday (Aug. 25) from an alleged suicide, the Summit County Medical Examiner's Office announced Monday.
The Akron Police Department claims an officer discovered 17-year-old McMullen with a “self inflicted gunshot wound to the head.”
McMullen was one of three teens listed as “possible suspects” in an armed robbery. “One of the victims was physically assaulted and pistol whipped,” Capt. Jesse Lesser said during a press conference Monday.
According to Lesser, the responding officers “developed information” at the scene and tracked the suspects down to another location.
The teens were placed in separate police cruisers while the officers continued their investigation. “At one point an officer approached his cruiser and observed that an individual who had been placed in the rear of it, was now deceased,” Lesser said adding that an ambulance was called to the scene, while officers apparently discovered a .45 caliber weapon in the backseat of the squad car.
Lesser wouldn’t say whether McMullen was patted down before he was put in the vehicle. Pat-downs are dependent on the “situation," he noted.
McMullen’s family and friends aren't buying the department's explanation. "I don't believe that he killed himself. I can't," Greg Wiley, McMullen's older brother, said in an interview. "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. I'd understand a gunshot wound to his back, stomach, something like that. But not the head - how is that possible?"
Wiley, 29, also questioned why McMullen wasn’t “patted down properly,” especially in the case of an armed robbery. “The cops did not do their job. I feel the cops took my brother.”
He added, "Enough violence is going on around us. We want the real truth. Someone needs to pay the consequences. There needs to be justice."
Of course, this isn't the first time that the department has come under fire for the behavior of officers. In 2015, Lesser was named in a lawsuit filed by a man who accused officers of excessive force, false arrest, and more stemming from a traffic stop a decade earlier. Lesser was promoted to captain the same day that the lawsuit was filed.
Later that year, the department launched an investigation into claims that officers punched and hit a man as they arrested him for speeding. And in 2013, an Akron officer assigned to work at a local middle school broke a 13-year-old girl’s arm while violently restraining her in a hallway.