Spotsylvania, VA — Unfortunately, over the years, TFTP has reported on several incidents in which people handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser have managed to somehow get their hands on a gun and then somehow shoot themselves in the head. In 2018, Sarah Wilson allegedly grabbed a gun and shot herself in the head while handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser. Her death was ruled a suicide. Victor White III, 22, was handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser in Louisiana and also allegedly grabbed a gun and shot himself in the back of a police cruiser. Like Wilson, his death was also ruled a suicide. Now, another investigation is underway as it’s happened yet again.
Authorities are now investigating the death of a 30-year-old woman in police custody who officers say managed to obtain a gun while handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser, and kill herself.
The unnamed woman was being transported by police between two hospitals for a mental health evaluation and would never make it to her destination.
As the Free Lance-Star reports:
It happened as the sheriff’s cruiser was leaving Mary Washington Hospital early Monday morning, according to the Virginia State Police. The shooting occurred in the city, but the Fredericksburg Police Department asked the state police to investigate.
According to state police Sgt. Brent Coffey, the Spotsylvania Sheriff’s Office was asked to transport the 30-year-old Spotsylvania woman from the hospital’s crisis assessment center to Western State Hospital for an mental health evaluation.
The sergeant transporting the woman told the Star in an email that the woman “had been combative at the hospital and with deputies” before she was secured in the back of the Ford Explorer.
Apparently, at least according to the official story of the police, she wasn’t “secured” very well in the back of the car and as the SUV pulled from the parking lot, he said, “The female fired one round from a handgun that was in her possession.”
How, exactly a woman in the crisis assessment center of a hospital, who was being transported by police to another hospital, managed to obtain a firearm while handcuffed and in the back of a police cruiser, is a mystery.
Police have not released any details as to how the woman obtained the gun she allegedly used to shoot herself in the head. One detail that police did release immediately, however, is that it is clear that the officer didn’t fire the gun.
“There is no evidence that either deputy riding in the front seat of the vehicle discharged a weapon at any time,” the Spotsylvania spokesperson said, adding that neither deputy was injured.
Oddly enough, this is the second person in just two years who was in the custody of the Spotsylvania sheriff’s office who managed to get a gun while handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser and shoot themselves in the head.
According to the Star, a similar incident involving a county deputy happened two years ago, on Aug. 16, 2018, when a man handcuffed in the back seat of a SUV patrol vehicle got a gun from a compartment and shot himself in the head. At the time, the sheriff’s office said the man, Christopher Howard, reached past the SUV’s cage to open the compartment containing the gun and bullets.
While we don’t know the exact details of this poor woman’s death, TFTP has reported on a similar incident in which a cop has actually shot and killed a handcuffed individual inside his police cruiser.
As TFTP reported in January, Prince George’s County police officers responded to reports that a driver had struck multiple vehicles. When they arrived on the scene, they found the driver, William Green. Temple Hills community, spokeswoman Christina Cotterman said the officers told her they believed the man was high on PCP because they could smell it.
While PCP does reportedly have an odor similar to magic markers, police claiming that a man was high on it without first conducting a toxicology exam is irresponsible at best and deliberately misleading at worst.
But there are other details to this story that paint an extremely sketchy picture. For starters, police were able to get the driver handcuffed without incident. We can deduce that it was without incident because officers claim they placed the Green in the front seat of the police cruiser after they handcuffed him.
Yes, you read that correctly. Officials told the media that it is normal for Prince George’s County police officers to place suspects in the front seats of their vehicles. Based on the thousands of police stories TFTP has reported over the years, the idea that it is department policy to allow suspects allegedly high on PCP to ride in the front seat of a police cruiser — handcuffed or not — is unbelievable, as in, we don’t believe it. TFTP has reported on incidents of police officers being arrested and asking to ride in the front seat to avoid embarrassment only to be denied by their arresting officers.
“A short time later, for reasons that are now at the center of the investigation, Green was shot seven times by the officer’s duty weapon,” according to police. Cpl. Michael Owen Jr., a 10-year force veteran of the force was subsequently charged for murder.