11/21/2006

Cuffed suspect shoots himself in squad car

[Related P-1 article: Better tactics for transporting prisoners]

PHILADELPHIA, PA- A suspect shot himself in the head while in the back of a police car with his hands cuffed behind his back, police said Monday.

Oliver Neal III, 26, was in critical condition, police told the Philadelphia Inquirer. It was not immediately clear whether Neal was trying to kill himself or if he shot himself accidentally, police said.



Neal had been pulled over just before 1 a.m. Monday for a traffic violation, according to Capt. Benjamin Naish, a police spokesman. A check showed he was wanted on numerous violations, Naish said.

Officers frisked Neal, found drugs in his pocket, handcuffed him and put him in the back of the car, Naish said. Neal apparently had a gun tucked in his clothing that officers did not find, police said.

It was unlikely the gun had been left in the back of the car because Philadelphia cruisers have one-piece plastic back seats that provide no hiding place, Naish said. He did not get free from the handcuffs.

"We don't know how the officers did not discover the gun," Naish said.

The department was investigating internally, officials said.

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