AKRON, Ohio - The last time Greg Wiley saw his little brother, Xavier McMullen, he told him that wanted to see him succeed.
“‘I want to see you do big things. Don’t get in trouble. Just do right, and you’ll be just fine,’” Wiley said. “He told me, ‘I will, big brother.’”
McMullen, 17, died Friday night while in Akron police custody. The teen was arrested earlier in the evening in connection with a robbery when he shot himself in the head while seated in the back of a patrol car, the Summit County Medical Examiner said Monday.
Wiley, 29, said he’s still numb four days after the fatal shooting. He struggles to understand how his brother’s death happened, since police said McMullen’s hands were handcuffed behind his back.
“I don’t believe he killed himself. I can’t,” Wiley said. “But maybe, if he had a gun on him, he was trying to get it off of him and while wiggling and struggling, the trigger pulled. I’d understand a gunshot wound to his back, stomach, something like that. But not the head - how is that possible?”
McMullen was the one who made his friends and family smile. His brother said their home life was never hard, compounding the reasons why suicide just seems like an unlikely explanation.
“Why wasn’t he patted down properly?” Wiley asked several times during an interview. “The cops did not do their job. I feel the cops took my brother.”
McMullen’s death happened after police arrested him and two others – Matthew Allen and Anthony Criss, both 18 – following a robbery on 7th Avenue between Kenmore Boulevard and Maryland Avenue, Akron police said Saturday. Allen and Criss are charged with aggravated robbery in Akron Municipal Court, records show.
Akron police Capt. Jesse Leeser did not say Monday whether officers searched McMullen for weapons before they placed him in the cruiser. He also declined to discuss the department’s procedures for pat-downs.
“It all depends on the circumstances,” he said. “It’s hard just to say, ‘every time you do it this way.’ It’s a rapidly evolving situation.”
None of the six officers who were at the scene are on administrative leave.
“That’s not fair to us as a family,” Wiley said in response to the department’s actions. “A badge does not make you better than the rest of us.”
While McMullen’s death remains under investigation by Akron detectives, the department’s office of professional standards and the Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office, Wiley is begging for answers.
“Enough violence is going on around us. We want the real truth,” he said. “Someone needs to pay the consequences. There needs to be justice.”