That a 21-year-old black man could shoot himself in the head and take his own life, all while both his hands are handcuffed behind his back, defies logic, admits Jonesboro police chief Michael Yates. Yet, the chief says he stands behind the officers who made the arrest and their version of the story.
Perhaps Yates should have said this explanation of Chavis Carter’s death demands further investigation. And, in fact, members of the FBI are indeed reviewing the case, Yates told concerned and outraged members of Jonesboro’s African American community.
In an interview with “HLN” host Jane Velez Mitchell, Yates characterized the police officers’ version of the events leading to the death of Chavis Carter “bizarre,” admitting that the notion that a handcuffed Carter shot himself in the head with a gun he had hidden sounds crazy.
What’s even crazier is that the officers reported that they searched Carter — not once, but twice — while he remained handcuffed and seated in the back of a patrol car.
Velez-Mitchell even tried to replicate the position Carter would have been in. He demonstrated just how difficult it would be to maneuver one’s hands. Yates quickly countered that, over the course of his long career, he’s “seen some people do some remarkable things” while in handcuffs. This would include “smoke cigarettes and (talking) on the phone.”
Yates said witnesses at the scene “tend to support” the version of events given by two officers. Of course, the public has yet to hear the accounts of the two witnesses that Yates highlighted.
“There’s no indication of any projectiles coming from outside the vehicle,” Yates told Mitchell. “We’ve reviewed the dashcam video and as late as today managed to have some witnesses come forward that observed the incident from start to finish. And their statements tend to support that whatever transpired in the back of that police car transpired in the back, with the officers in a different location.”
A candlelit vigil is going to be held in Carter’s memory on Monday evening.