APD officer suspended for missing gun in pat-down before teen's suicide in custody

AUSTIN, Texas -- Interim Police Chief Brian Manley suspended an officer for missing a gun during the pat-down of a teenager who used the gun to commit suicide in the back of a police car in January.

KVUE and the Austin American-Statesman reporter Tony Plohetski confirmed that Officer Iven Wall was found to have violated the department's procedures on conducting a proper pat-down. Wall will serve a 20-day unpaid suspension. 

The suspension was in lieu of termination in exchange for Wall's agreement not to appeal, Plohetski confirmed.

The shooting happened in the back of Wall's patrol car in downtown Austin in January. Wall had been called to a store at Barton Creek Square Mall to investigate 19-year-old Zachary Anam for possible shoplifting. On the way to APD headquarters, Anam was able to get the gun from his waistband and shoot himself. 

Wall has been under investigation since the incident.

"No one can punish Officer Wall more than he has punished himself. This was a tragic event and something he thinks about every time he puts someone in the back of his patrol vehicle," said Ken Casaday, President of the Austin Police Association.

Anam's family released the following statement:

Zac Anam’s parents, Sayeed and Cara, are severely disappointed with the minimal discipline imposed on Officer Wall. “A twenty-day suspension is like a vacation,” said Sayeed.  

After arresting Zac for shoplifting, Officer Wall failed to adequately search Zac before placing him in the back of an Austin Police Department squad car. As a result, the distraught Zac was able to take his life with a handgun that remained in
hiswaist band.

“In light of the many instances in which APD has missed weapons in the past, this appears to be a systemic failure on the part of APD,” said the family’s attorney, Jeff Edwards. “Unless Chief Manley commits to retraining every officer so that thy learn how to properly frisk suspects, this will happen to someone else.  A 20-day suspension does little to nothing to correct the issue going forward and is insulting to the Anam family, who lost their only son.”

Last week, another APD officer was under investigation after a woman smuggled a gun inside the Travis County Jail. An internal investigation into that incident is ongoing.

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