August 20, 2012
A handcuffed man that had been searched twice shot himself in the head in the back of a squad car. That’s the conclusion the Arkansas State Crime Lab has reached today after conducting an autopsy of Chavis Carter.
Following the release of dashcam footage this weekend that shone absolutely no light on the suspicious circumstances surrounding Carter’s death, an autopsy report released by the Arkansas State Crime Lab has officially labeled Carter’s death a suicide.
“In consideration of the circumstances of death and after autopsy of the body, it is our opinion that Chavis Carter, a 21-year-old black male, died of a gunshot wound of the head. The agencies responsible for the investigation of his death were the Jonesboro Police Department and the Craighead County Coroner’s Office. They reported that he was detained during a traffic stop.He was cuffed and placed into a police car, where apparently he produced a weapon, and despite being handcuffed, shot himself in the head.
At autopsy, the cause of death was a perforating gunshot wound of the head. At the time of discharge, the muzzle of the gun was placed against the right temporal scalp. The bullet perforated the cranial cavity, causing brain injuries, skull fractures, and death. The bullet exited the left side of the head…MANNER OF DEATH: Suicide”
Carter was arrested in Jonesboro, Arkansas on July 28 on charges of failure to appear in court. According to the police report, moments after hearing Officer Ron Marsh thump on his trunk, Officer Keith Baggett says he exited his car and was told by Officer Marsh that Carter had shot himself.
Police say Carter’s handcuffs had been double-locked behind his back and he was frisked twice before being placed in the back of a squad car. Somehow, however, police say they managed to miss a .380 caliber Cobra semi-auto firearm.
Sergeant Lyle Waterworth defended his officers’ lousy search, stating, “Any given officer has missed something on a search, be it drugs, be it knives, be it razor blades. In this instance it happened to be a gun.”
Amid an uproar of protest by the citizens of Jonesboro, police have frantically been racing to convince the public that Carter’s death was in fact a suicide, even releasing a police reenactment video showing handcuffed officers of all shapes and sizes seen being able to lift a gun to their right temples while sitting in the back of a squad car.
However, some think the act of producing a video illustrating this is suspicious in and of itself.
Teresa Carter, Chavis’ mother, says there’s no mystery behind her son’s death. Two weeks ago, she told WREG, “I think they [police] killed him, my son wasn’t suicidal.”
Other red flags pointed out by Carter’s mother include Chavis’ right temple gunshot wound, despite his being left-handed, and also a call Chavis made to his girlfriend, moments prior to being arrested, letting her know he would be calling her from jail.
Futhermore, Jonesboro Police Chief Michael Yates has gone from saying the shooting is “definitely bizarre and it defies logic at first glance,” to, after the release of their reenactment, stating, “The fact of it is, it’s very possible and it’s quite easy.”
The Jonesboro police department has also faced criticism for their lack of racial diversity, having only three black officers to their 145 white officers.
Believing that police are responsible for Carter’s death is not so farfetched.
Almost daily, we are subjected to horror stories of ego maniacal ape bully cops, sexually deviant “public servants,” and all around “douchebags,” for lack of a better term, that more frequently seem to dominate police stations around the world.
Time and time again, we document and report stories of extreme police corruption that involve sexual molestation, extortion, brutality, lying, invasions of privacy, violations of constitutional rights, and even murder.
Of course, the autopsy is partially biased, its last sentence stating: “The manner of death is based on both autopsy findings and the investigative conclusions of the Jonesboro Police Department.” The FBI is also investigating the controversial death and has yet to release its findings.
Baggett and Marsh are on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.