Chavis Chacobie CarterÂ died on Saturday night after receiving a gunshot wound to the head while being detained in the back of a Jonesboro, Arkansas police car. The police say Carter shot himself with a small,Â concealedÂ weapon, but Carterâ€™s family is accusing the officers of shooting the young man.
According to police, Carter, 21, of Southhaven, Mississippi, was a passenger in a truck that was stopped around 10pm on Saturday night. Officers searched the vehicle and found marijuana. Upon checking Carter through dispatch, they discovered an outstanding warrant for him in Mississippi, handcuffed his hands behind his back, searched him twice, and placed him in the back of the car.
Police claim that they heard a thump, and returned to the patrol car to find Carter slumped over and bloody. He was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he died.
Like many others, Carterâ€™s mother Teresa finds this account of the events hard to believe. She is quoted in the Huffington Post saying,Â â€I think they killed him. My son wasnâ€™t suicidal.â€ Another article reports Ms. Carter saying that her son was left handed, but suffered a wound to his right temple; and that he had spoken to his girlfriend earlier during the traffic stop, telling her heâ€™d call later.
The Jonesboro Police Chief Michael Yates has admitted that the case seems suspicious. The Grio reports:
In an interview with HLN host Jane Velez Mitchell, Yates called the situation surrounding the death of Chavis Carter â€œbizarre,â€ admitting that the notion that a handcuffed Carter shot himself in the head with a gun he secreted from two police officers who searched him twice, all while he remained handcuffed and seated in the back of a patrol car, defies logic.
But unlike the â€œmysteriousâ€ deaths of other young black men in police custody, forensics and video may give this case some closure. Joneboro police have stated that a small caliber firearm and a spent casing were found in the back of the patrol car and are being tested, and that video from the dashboard cameras supports the officerâ€™s accounts.
The Huffington Post also reports that the FBI has confirmed they will be involved in the investigation.