Texas Student Shoots Himself While Handcuffed and Being Transported from School in Police Car

At risk student shoots himself after being taken into protective custody

A seventeen-year-old student shot himself yesterday while being transported from his school in a police car in Harris County, Texas.  A student reported that he received a text message from the student indicating that the student might harm himself and notified school officials who notified police that the student might be at risk of harming himself with a weapon.  The student was enrolled at the Galena Park Independent School District near Houston.

While being transported by a Harris County Constable Deputy, the young man shot himself in the head even though he had been handcuffed, according to police.  The student was taken to the Ben Taub General Hospital and was listed in critical condition.  The student was reportedly depressed after having problems with his girlfriend.  Apparently, the arresting officer who searched the student missed the handgun.

Many years ago, an Atlanta police officer was shot and paralyzed from the waist down by a student during a transport many years ago.  The officer told me that the students were not in custody and were being transported to the school office when he was shot.  He related that while he patted down the older of the two students prior to the transport, he did not pat down a 13-year-old who had the weapon concealed on his person. 

Some years ago, a Richmond County, Georgia School District police officer was shot and killed by a high school student who fired from the back seat of his patrol car after the officer missed a handgun concealed in his crotch.  The suspect had not been handcuffed at the time and was apparently not under arrest at the time of the shooting.  A Bibb County, Georgia School District police officer was shot and killed near Central High School in Macon, Georgia while transporting a non-student who took the officer’s weapon.  This individual had also not been handcuffed because he had not been arrested.  Our concealed weapons demonstrations and training videos demonstrate just how easy it can be to miss a weapon, even a firearm during a search of a student.

At this point, we do not know exactly how the youth was able to shoot himself during a police transport.  This will be determined during the ongoing investigation of the incident.  However, this incident and the above instances of school–aged youth who have killed and wounded police officers during transports indicate the need for careful adherence to proper searches and handcuffing practices.  While many school administrators and parents have objected to students being handcuffed or handcuffed with their hands behind their back, each of these instances shows just how dangerous it can be to transport adult or juvenile suspects. 


About Michael Dorn

Michael Dorn serves as the Executive Director of Safe Havens International, a non-profit school safety center. The author of 27 books on school safety, Michael’s campus safety work has taken him to 11 countries over the past 34 years.