Police: Woman attempted suicide by hanging with a shoelace in transport van after arrest

A woman is in extremely critical condition after officers say she attempted suicide by hanging herself in the back of a police transport van.

The suspect was arrested for domestic violence charges and was being transferred from one police station to another when the incident happened.

According to Phoenix Police, the suicide attempt occurred during the 20-mile trip from the northern command station at 3rd Street and Union Hills to the southern command station in downtown Phoenix.

The 39-year-old woman got out of her handcuffs and hung herself in the back of the transport wagon, using a shoelace.

FOX 10's Nicole Garcia spoke with the woman's ex-husband, who was the victim in the domestic violence call that sparked this whole incident. He says he told officers the woman was suicidal and he claims police were negligent.

Officers responded to a domestic violence call at the north Phoenix home early Wednesday morning and neighbors noticed a large police presence.

"There were four police cars in the cul-de-sac and we saw they were taking away somebody, but we didn't know who it was," said Tracy Smith.

The woman was taken into custody on aggravated assault charges. Police say she tried to stab her husband and slammed the door on an officer's arm.

The ex-husband tells FOX 10 she came to the house to see their children and that she was unstable. He says he told officers she was at high risk for suicide, that she had recently gotten out of a hospital for a drug overdose and had also spent some time in a psych ward.

The woman was alone in the back of the transport van, when police say she got out of her handcuffs and fashioned a noose out of one of her shoelaces. She attached one end to a vent and hung herself.

It wasn't until the van got to the southern command station some 20 miles away that officers discovered the suicide attempt.

"It affects the officers too. The ones that actually discovered her and tried their best to implement those life-saving measures," said Sgt. Vince Lewis.

Police say the incident is under investigation and there is not a separate transportation procedure for suicidal suspects.

"We're thoroughly investigating to see if there's anything else we can learn or might need to to differently," said Lewis.

"It is very sad any time someone gets to that point.. it is very upsetting and we wish them the best," said Smith.

The woman remains hospitalized in grave condition and family members don't believe she will survive.

The woman's ex-husband says he sees the incident as an act of gross negligence and plans to file legal action against the Phoenix Police Department.