Twenty one year old Chavis Carter died Saturday from a gunshot to the temple. He died while in handcuffs, and he died while in handcuffs AND sitting in the back of a police cruiser. The police have launched their own investigation into his death that officers at the scene reported as a suicide. Carter was just a passenger in a pickup truck that was stopped Saturday night in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Carter is black, and the driver and other passenger were white. The officers found marijuana at some point during the encounter. According to the police reports, the officers estimated the amount of marijuana found to be $10 worth, Officers then ran Carter’s information into their database.
Police found out that he was wanted on a warrant from Mississippi, so the officers frisked Carter, not once but twice before locking both of his hands behind his back and seating him in the back of a patrol car. Police reports say that minutes later they heard a thumping noise, and turned to find that Carter was shot in the head. Jonesboro Police Sergeant Lyle Waterworth says that the officers followed protocol of double searching him and double locking his wrists before loading him into the back of the police car. Waterworth said they think that Carter pulled a gun out that they had missed during the search, and shot himself, explaining that any given officer might miss something on a search, drugs, or knives, or razor blades, but saying this time, they missed a small caliber hand gun.
The two officers that were involved in the traffic stop and reported the suicide are on administrative leave pending the investigation. More information that came out today, a girlfriend of Carter’s said that he placed a cell phone call to her as the police were pulling them over, telling her that if he went to jail, he would call her when he got there. Also, Carter’s mother says that the gunshot was in the right temple, and Chavis Carter was left-handed.