Search Procedure Questioned in Sunday In-Custody Suicide
APD won't say publicly whether Zac Anam was searched before he was placed under arrest
Interim APD Chief Brian Manley said during a Tuesday press conference that an investigation into the arrest procedures of the two officers who had taken custody of Zac Anam remains ongoing. Anam, 19, had been arrested Sunday morning at the Barton Creek Square mall for attempted shoplifting and possession of a controlled substance, and was handcuffed in the back of a patrol car being transported to APD headquarters when he shot himself in the face with his own gun. Manley told the press he had a "preliminary belief" regarding whether the involved officers – Iven Wall and John Ricker – searched Anam for weapons, but declined to say outright what that particular belief was. The department hadn't yet received official statements regarding the incident from either officer; Manley did not want to comment until these had been provided. Even without the interim chief's confirmation, however, it remains a foregone conclusion that Wall and Ricker neglected to search the teen while taking him into custody. APD policy mandates that officers conduct searches of arrested individuals, even if that individual was taken into custody by another agency which may have performed its own search. In Anam's case, Wall and Ricker had both arrived to arrest the teenager after he had been detained by loss prevention officers (store-specific security guards) at the Macy's at Barton Creek.
Anam shot himself in the 500 block of Lavaca Street, shortly after engaging in a conversation with one of the two officers about what Manley called his own "suicidal ideations." The officer asked if Anam had the means to kill himself, at which point he "pull[ed] his arms … around the right side of his body, almost to the front of his body," lay down along the seat, pulled a gun out of the back of his waistband, and brought the muzzle to his head. Manley said six minutes passed between the time Anam pulled the gun out of his waistband and when he shot himself. He was transported to Brackenridge Hospital but died shortly thereafter. A statement issued by the family characterized Anam as "a beautiful kid, who loved his family and friends very much, and was loved by them just as much. He was born in Connecticut and raised in Austin, and graduated from Bowie High School in 2015, where he was on the varsity football and wrestling teams. We are devastated by the loss of our wonderful son, and very grateful for the overwhelming outpouring from the many friends of Zac who have expressed their love of him and of us."
On Tuesday, Manley said APD's Special Investigations Unit is currently performing its routine in-custody death investigation, which runs concurrent yet separate to Internal Affairs' administrative inquiry, to determine if any criminal charges should be filed against Wall and Ricker. Any findings from that study will go to the District Attorney's Office. Wall and Ricker, 11- and 7-year veterans, respectively, have both been placed on administrative leave while IA's investigation remains ongoing.