Video After The Jump
Public outrage is growing over the bizarre shooting death of 21-year old Chavis Carter in Jonesboro, Arkansas.
Carter and two other men were pulled over July 29th for driving suspiciously. The first officer called for backup, then the two of them searched the three men in the truck.
Police say Carter initially gave them a false name, but they eventually found out who he was. They also determined that he had an arrest warrant out of Mississippi. Carter was arrested when police found a $10 bag of weed on him and some small plastic bags during an initial search.
Carter was placed into the back of a cruiser without being handcuffed. Cops then searched the vehicle Carter was in and reportedly found drug paraphernalia, including electronic scales and a large bag of white powder.
At that point Carter was searched again, handcuffed and placed in the back of the same police cruiser.
“As protocol he was handcuffed behind his back and double locked, and searched”, said Sergeant Lyle Waterworth of the Jonesboro Police.
Minutes later police say they heard a thumping noise, turned around and found Chavis dead, shot in the head, in the back of the squad car. A small, .380 caliber handgun along with a spent cartridge, were found in the backseat with Carter, who was still handcuffed. The gun had been reported stolen in June.
Bizarre: Police in Jonesboro, Arkansas, say they missed the small handgun Carter was carrying and only found it after he had shot himself in the temple while being held in a squad car
“Any given officer has missed something on a search, be it drugs, knife, razor blades, this instance it happened to be a gun” Waterworth told WREG.com.
Chavis' mother, Teresa Carter, said her son wasn't suicidal. She believes he was murdered by the police.
“I think they killed him, my son wasn’t suicidal.” she said.
Teresa also said her son was shot in the right temple and he is left handed.
Wanted: Officers discovered a $10 baggie of marijuana in Carter's pocket and also discovered he was wanted on a warrant from Mississippi
"If you could find a dime bag of marijuana on a person, you could find a .380," his great-aunt, Cassie Carter told The Daily Mail. "It's hard for me to accept the fact that he would do something like that due to his personality."
According to the Huffington Post, "The FBI has since joined the investigation into Carter’s death. The two officers on the scene the night of the shooting, Keith Baggett and Ron Marsh, both of whom are white, are on paid leave pending the outcome of the investigation."
Jonesboro Police Chief Michael Yates called Carter’s death “bizarre,” saying it “defies logic at first glance.” “Specifically, how Carter suffered his apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound remains unexplained,” said a department statement.
Rallying cry: Carter's death has been compared to the shooting of Trayvon Martin as well as wrongful police shootings in the past
Yates said police have figured out ways someone could shoot themselves while handcuffed, but refused to discuss them while the investigation is still underway.
Investigators also claim that it has been determined from video and audio recordings, as well as statements from witnesses that neither one of the officers fired a shot during the traffic stop. However, police have refused to release those recordings.
The Craighead County branch of the NAACP has called for thorough, outside investigation into Carter's death.
"The public relies upon police to serve and protect all citizens, no matter their race or ethnicity," the NAACP said in a statement.
Preliminary autopsy results could be available as early as this week.
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