RALEIGH, North Carolina (Reuters) - No criminal charges will be filed in the case of a North Carolina teen who authorities say fatally shot himself in the head while handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser, an official said on Tuesday.
Jesus Huerta, 17, died on November 19 in Durham, North Carolina, after he was arrested on an outstanding warrant for trespassing. Officer Samuel Duncan will not face any charges for failing to find the gun Huerta used to kill himself when he searched the teenager, according to a statement from District Attorney Leon Stanback.
Huerta's family had reported he ran away from home and requested police search for him. They told dispatchers he had previously attempted suicide, but police say that information was not relayed to Duncan.
Duncan told investigators that during the drive back to police headquarters, he warned Huerta several times to stop moving his cuffed hands.
As he was pulling into police headquarters, Duncan heard a shot and jumped out of the car. He found Huerta slumped over in the backseat and a semi-automatic .45-caliber pistol on the floor.
Stanback reviewed a report by the State Bureau of Investigation regarding the incident, as well as Huerta's autopsy, which showed he died of a gunshot through his mouth.
A lawyer representing Huerta's family, Alexander Charns, did not immediately comment on the decision.
But in a written statement, Charns questioned the results of the investigation, noting the family's attempts to assist in the investigation were ignored.
"Who is shown respect and what assumptions are brought into an investigation makes a difference in criminal investigations as it does in every aspect of life," Charns said.
Reporting by Marti Maguire; Editing by Kevin Gray and Lisa Shumaker