JONESBORO, Ark. – Chavis Carter shot himself to death despite being handcuffed and stuffed in the back of a police cruiser, the Arkansas medical examiner reported. Therefore, Carter is listed as officially committing suicide.
The family and community are outraged because the explanation seems to defy logic and physics. First, the police state in their reports that they searched Carter’s body twice for weapons and did not find any. Secondly, Carter’s hands were handcuffed behind his back and he was seated inside a tight space in the back of a police car, making it extraordinarily difficult to maneuver himself and his hands in order to locate a weapon that the officers missed and then point the gun in a direction to shoot himself in the temple.
Toxicology findings show Carter tested positive for methamphetamine, anti-anxiety medication and other drugs, CBS News reports.
Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Stephen A. Erickson of the Arkansas State Crime Lab says the bullet that killed Carter entered his skull near his right temple, four inches from the top of his head.
“At the time of discharge, the muzzle of the gun was placed against the right temporal scalp,” wrote Erickson. He added, “The manner of death is based on both autopsy findings and the investigative conclusions of the Jonesboro Police Department.”
The autopsy report released Monday included a drug analysis from July 28 reveal his urine and blood indicated methamphetamine use. The report says Carter’s blood also tested positive for at least trace amounts of the anti-anxiety medication diazepam and the painkiller oxycodone. His urine test also returned a positive result for marijuana. But Carter had not been drinking that evening.
Last week, Jonesboro police released reenactment video of a police officer approximately the same size as Carter reenacting what may have happened the back of the police car on the night of July 28, when Carter and two other men were pulled over in a traffic stop. Police searched Carter twice but have said they did not find a gun, CBS News reports.
The reenactment video shows the officer being cuffed, then sitting in the back seat, retrieving a fake gun from his pants, and bringing the barrel to his right temple. The video also shows still photographs of other officers handcuffed in the backseat of a car, with the fake gun pressed to their temple.
Very few people in the public within Carter’s family are buying that version of Carter’s death, except members of the police department.