Akron Police avoid specifics regarding teen who killed himself in cop car; Cleveland 19 pursuing answers

Akron Police avoid specifics regarding teen who killed himself in cop car; Cleveland 19 pursuing answers
(Source: WOIO)

AKRON, OH (WOIO) - Akron Police still aren't saying exactly what officers did before they placed a 17 year old in the back of a police cruiser Friday night. That teen committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.

Xavier McMullen, 17, was found dead in the back of an Akron police cruiser Friday night. He, and two other teens, Anthony William Criss, 18, and Mathew Wayne Allen, 18, had been arrested as suspects in an aggravated robbery.

Akron officers found the three, arrested them, and placed them in the back of separate police cruisers. Police haven't commented on whether or not the officers patted down or searched the suspects for weapons before putting them in the back of the cruisers.

At a Monday press conference, Akron Police Captain Jesse Leeser wouldn't say if it was standard procedure for officers to pat down suspects before putting them in cruisers.

It all depends on the circumstances, it's hard to say exactly every time you do it this way, it's a rapidly evolving situation, you have a limited amount of officers with three suspects, possibly armed, you can handle it different ways but I dont want to go into it, said Leeser.

Cleveland 19 has learned, that according to the statewide Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy, the state agency that oversees training requirements for Ohio police officers, standard procedure is that cops handcuff a suspect, then
thoroughly search" them before placing them in the back of a police cruiser. A spokesperson for OPOTA said that those are the guidelines and that departments and situations may call for different procedures.

Cleveland 19 has requested the most recent Akron Police manual, that request, along with several other public records requests, were sent to the citys law department. 

Cleveland 19 did uncover a copy of the Akron Police Manual of Rules and Regulations that was admitted as evidence in a separate 2013 Ohio Supreme Court case.

It states in that manual that "The arresting officer is responsible for the safety and protection of the arrested person while in his/her custody." And that "No officer/employee shall place a weapon orpermit such weapons or objects to remain unattended in any location normally accessible to a prisoner or suspect."

Cleveland 19 shared this information, including the specific section numbers of the referenced regulations, with APD to see if they wanted to comment, and if those are still the standards of the department. Cleveland 19 was told they cant reply to those questions if we dont have the answers yet. Its an ongoing investigation.

Security expert Tim Dimoff, a retired police officer, said he doesn't know what exactly officers did at the scene Friday, but, in his experience, even if every procedure was followed perfectly there's still a chance things can be missed.

Pat downs are not the easiest thing to do, they're not the most efficient thing, 100% efficiency, so it's not a surprise to me that we have instances periodically where a weapon is found later on, said Dimoff.  Short of a strip search you've got no 100% guarantee of finding anything.

Dimoff also reiterated that the rules are guidelines, and that different situations can call for different procedures. 

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