Police chief: “It’s very possible and it’s quite easy.”
Aug 15, 2012
Police in Jonesboro investigating the death of a man they detained in the back of a squad car have released a video that they say explains how he could have shot himself in the head while his hands were handcuffed behind his back.
The story hit the headlines earlier this month as officers claimed that 21 year old Chavis Carter killed himself after being searched on suspicion of possessing marijuana. Officers double-locked the handcuffs, making it harder for the lock to be picked, but claimed that Carter was able to pull out a hidden gun, raise it to his head and pull the trigger while they were temporarily away from the car.
The officers say they found a small, .380 caliber handgun and a spent cartridge in the backseat next to Carter’s slumped lifeless body. They claim that the weapon must have been overlooked when they searched Carter, twice.
As part of the investigation into the death, and perhaps also in response to claims of foul play, police released a video, depicting several officers of different heights and builds being cuffed, but still being able to raise a concealed replica gun to their heads.
In a message at the beginning, the video is described as “non-evidentiary reproduction of facts and circumstances associated with the pending investigation of the Chavis Carter in-custody death.”
The message states that the scenes depicted were intended to investigate “the possibility that an individual, hand-cuffed behind his back, may or may not have the ability to use a concealed firearm in a manner that would give rise to his or her death.”
“The circumstances displayed are not intended to illustrate the only means by which an individual could injure themselves but merely to determine the feasibility of these actions,” the video states.
“The investigation is active and awaits forensic and other investigative material that will be used to complete a full inquiry into this matter.” the message concludes.
Watch the video:
“The fact of it is, it’s very possible and it’s quite easy.” said Police Chief Michael Yates in response to CNN reporter Randi Kaye’s question of whether anyone could shoot themselves while handcuffed.
With regard to the mystery of the hidden gun, Yates said “It’s obvious they did miss the weapon on the first search. It is likely, since he was placed into the car unhandcuffed the first time, that he had an opportunity to stash the weapon in the car. The second search, which was more thorough and inclusive, did not disclose the weapon either.”
Sergeant Lyle Waterworth has attempted to deflect accusations of murder by claiming that officers could have easily missed the gun during the search.
“Any given officer has missed something on a search, be it drugs, knife, razor blades, this instance it happened to be a gun” said Waterworth.
Local activists have called for Yates’ resignation, saying that past racially motivated run-ins with black residents make him unfit to lead the investigation. The Jonesboro Sun has also reported that only three of 145 members of the police force under Yates are black.
Carter’s family and supporters in the community say they have dismissed the suicide explanation as a cover-up for murder.
“I think they killed him, my son wasn’t suicidal,” said Carter’s mother Teresa Carter.
She has also noted that Chavis was shot in the right temple and yet he is left-handed.
Carter also points out that Chavis called his girlfriend while pulled over and assured her that he would be in contact again when he got to jail.
The AP reports that Russell Marlin, a Memphis, Tenn.-based attorney representing Carter’s family, does not believe that Carter was suicidal.
“By all accounts, he was a healthy, happy guy. There’s no reason to think he would have killed himself,” Martin said.
The officers involved in the incident remain on leave pending the investigation.
As police brutality in America escalates to new heights of violence and abuse, more and more unprovoked deaths are occurring, but punishments for officers who shoot victims dead are often miniscule.
In January 2009, 22-year-old Oscar Grant was shot in the back by policeman Johannes Mehserle as he lay on a platform at a railway station in Oakland California. Mehserle was charged with involuntary manslaughter after he claimed he had meant to use his Taser and not a gun and ended up serving just two years in jail for killing Grant.
Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.com, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham in England.