Sentencing

Left-Handed Chavis Carter Shot Self With Right Hand While Cuffed in Back of Cop Cruiser

State crime lab report says 21-year-old drug war casualty committed suicide.

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Where is that gun supposed to be coming from in this police reenactment?

A state crime lab report claims Chavis Carter, the man shot to death while handcuffed in the back of a Jonesboro, Arkansas police cruiser, committed suicide. 

The left-handed Carter, the report claims, retrieved a 380-caliber Cobra semi-automatic, which he had managed to conceal from officers during two searches, and used his right hand to shoot himself in the head. 

As noted earlier in Reason 24/7, the report was signed by three medical examiners. Reason's Lucy Steigerwald reported yesterday that the coroner's office in Craighead County, about 40 miles northwest of Memphis, Tennessee, had already produced its finding that Carter's death was a suicide. 

The state report was provided to Associated Press under a Freedom of Information Act request. The Jonesboro police have also produced a re-enactment of the tale of Carter's suicide. I can't tell whether the video (0:46–1:00 here) shows an officer pulling a concealed weapon from his own person or fishing a drop gun from the cushions of the car. (YMMV.) 

From AP's Jeannie Nuss:

"How (did) he shoot himself in his right temple and he (was) left-handed? In handcuffs?" one of his friends, Bianca Tipton, asked.

The state crime lab report, released to The Associated Press and other news organizations under a public records request, didn't answer that question.

Instead, the report says Carter's death was ruled a suicide based on autopsy findings and investigative conclusions from the Jonesboro Police Department, which has faced questions from Carter's family and community members about the circumstances surrounding the July 28 death.

"He was cuffed and placed into a police car, where apparently he produced a weapon, and despite being handcuffed, shot himself in the head," the report says.

There is no backseat footage of Carter himself. 

Chavis Carter showing the hand police say he used to shoot himself while handcuffed and seated in the backseat of a squadcar.

Local residents called police on Sunday, July 28 to report that Chavis Chacobie Carter and two associates where riding in a Missouri-tagged truck with no headlights at 9:50 p.m. Carter was a passenger in the truck. Jonesboro police responding to a 911 call ran the other two men's licenses. Both were subsequently released.

Carter carried no ID and called himself Larayan Bowman. Cops were unable to verify his identity and found a small amount of pot in his pockets. After officers placed him without restraints in the back seat of a patrol car, Carter admitted his real name. Cops discovered an arrest warrant on a charge of having failed to comply with a DeSoto County, Mississippi drug-diversion plan to which Carter had been sentenced after pleading guilty to a single count of selling pot. 

The police story teems with dreamlike detail. Perry County, Arkansas columnist Gene Lyons describes it

According to their written report, officers took Carter out of the patrol car, placed him under arrest, searched him, handcuffed his hands behind his back, and then locked him inside with the vehicle's windows tightly closed. Several witnesses observed it all. An aunt of Carter's arrived at the scene, presumably summoned by cellphone. Informed of the charges, she drove off.

As the officers walked toward the second patrol car to interview the other suspects, the report says, "I saw a vehicle driving north on Haltom and then heard a loud thump with a metallic sound. I thought the vehicle had ran over a piece of metal on the roadway." 

More on drug diversion programs

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  1. That Chavis Carter pic and alt-text are awesome by the way.

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  2. In those police reenactments the cuffs are on so loose they could be slipped off.

  3. Here’s how it has to happen for the cop’s story to work out:

    They arrest Carter, search him twice and miss a .380. They cuff him loosely enough that he could push the hand-cuffs up to his wrists and then turn off the dashcam. Carter then fishes out his gun, contorts to a very difficult angle and then kills himself because he was going to be sent back to drug diversion. Two police officers fail to hear a gun-shot in a car, and then find him dead at some point after that.

    Uh-huh. Cool story, bro.

    1. Dude, this would make a great D.A.R.E. PSA!

    2. WE will never know thanks to the dash cam being turned off. It ought to be a crime for the police to ever turn those things off.

      Suppose for a minute the cops are telling the truth and this guy did really manage to shoot himself. Thanks to these guys turning off the dash cam, the city will never be able to prove that and now we have all of these problems and suspicions undercutting the trust in the police. For that reason alone, the cops ought to be prosecuted for turning off the dash cam.

      1. As you can see below, they don’t admit to turning it off. It mysteriously malfunctioned.

        1. Oh, wait. Now they are saying the cops weren’t in the car to hear the shot. They just didn’t notices the pints of blood that would have been everywhere when they got back in.

          1. “They just didn’t notices the pints of blood that would have been everywhere when they got back in.”

            Where does anyone report that nobody noticed either blood or the dead person in the back of the car?

            1. OK, wrong about that. Original reports were saying that they got to the station before discovering him dead.

              1. “Officers a short time later saw Carter slumped over in the backseat and covered in blood with his hands still cuffed, according to the police report, which concluded he had managed to conceal the handgun with which he shot himself. He later died at a hospital.”

                So, they discovered a lot of blood and a critically injured person in the car.

                1. So, they say discovered a lot of blood and a critically injured person in the car.

                  Stop struggling so hard. They got away with it. Who cares about what some wild-eyed lunatic on a libertarian board says, anyway?

                  1. “He later died at a hospital.”

                    No, the hospital says it.

        2. Strict liability. What I can’t get is why they would have shot this guy. It makes no sense. Even I find it hard to believe that the police just decided to use a drop gun and shoot the guy. That seems pretty out there. But every other explanation is just as unlikely.

          1. It doesn’t have to be that they executed him in cold blood. There are a lot of scenarios in between that and “he committed suicide in a highly improbable way.”

            As I said last night, they have created enough uncertainty that we will never know what happened, and all uncertainty always gets put as a plus in the cop’s side of the ledger.

            1. The cop is playing with the gun and it accidentally goes off killing the guy like in Pulp Fiction?

              1. C’mon, Chavis, I mean, you gotta have an opinion!

                *bam*

                Snark aside, As this story as developed, the gaps are getting are getting tighter and tighter, in the cops favor.

                I believe that Randian asked me yesterday during my rants of skepticism regarding the police side of the story, “what would make you believe it was a suicide”. All the things I listed are now fading into obscurity because those what-if scenarios are being conveniently swept aside.

                I said audio of the event (ie, another car’s dash cam capturing the audio) would help — depending on what the audio reveals.

                Tracing the gun to Carter or an associate would be a big help- that option seems the only one left at this point. By tracing the gun to Carter that would lessen the possibility that the cops had a random drop gun lying around for just these kinds of shenanigans.

                I don’t know how many different models of Cobra .380 there are, but it appears that it’s not the smallest of concealables, like the Ruger LCP or SW Bodyguard. So I’m not liking that they missed it in a search, twice.

                I’m guessing this one goes down as a question mark.

                They need to get a good technician to look at that camera and find out why it was turned off– and find the cause of a damned “malfunction”.

                1. I believe there are two. The cheapest one is 2.1 lbs. and a single action striker fired pistol, VERY cheaply constructed.

                  It doesn’t appear to have any kind of manual safety, and it doesn’t have a grip safety and/or a long trigger pull like many striker pistols do, either.

                  It would be really easy to accidentally fire it, if you were screwing around with it.

                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qNK6vvpRTk

                  1. The Cobra is a rebranded RAVEN. If you ever handled a RAVEN back in the 90s, they weren’t reliable or safe.

              2. The cop is playing with the gun and it accidentally goes off killing the guy like in Pulp Fiction?

                SOmething like that, yeah, could be. Try this:

                The cops find the gun after he tried to hide it in the back seat, say. He’s made them look like fools, they are seriously pissed off, so they tee off on him, with one of them pointing the gun at his head and it, as they say, goes off.

                1. The cops find the gun after he tried to hide it in the back seat, say. He’s made them look like fools, they are seriously pissed off, so they tee off on him, with one of them pointing the gun at his head and it, as they say, goes off.

                  I could absolutely go with this. It doesn’t have to be 1st degree, premeditated murder with malice of forethought.

                  It could have been some threatening gunplay by the cops that got out of hand. Ie the whole thing was just a tragic accident.

                  Guns went off, people were hurt.

                  1. When you look into what the gun is (see my link above) it’s even more plausible.

                    1. Yeah I saw it.

                      You know, following RC Dean’s theory, and given that infamous viral video of that cop that went ape fucking shit when he found out ten minutes into a stop that the guy had a concealed gun, I can see how:

                      1. They search Carter, fail to find the gun, put him in the patrol car.

                      2. They leave him alone for a short time, then one of the officers comes back to check on him or do something in the cruiser.

                      3. He finds Carter fiddling with something in his back pocket. Curious, the cop opens the door to find that he’s trying to discard a stolen .380 that they failed to find the first time.

                      4. Cop, feeling like he’s been made the fool, goes apeshit on Carter, taking the gun away, then going into a profanity-laden diatribe telling him that he could execute him at this moment and it would be perfectly legal.

                      5. To put the fear of Cops into him, he takes the gun away from Carter and puts the gun at his temple while continuing to scream about how he could shoot Carter right here and now and it would be justified.

                      6. Cops, being the group most prone to accidental discharge by both whole number and percentage, accidently lets one fly at Carter’s temple.

                      Which leaves us with the same questions I had in the beginning, that I haven’t seen any answer on.

                      Did carter have powder residue on his right hand? And when the cops were tested for powder residue (Higher standards, meet police department), how did that test turn out?

                    2. ..contd

                      Or, again, is this being ruled a suicide merely because it was found that it was possible to commit suicide with handcuffs on?

                      Sort of like because that crazy rich kid was able to sail across the ocean in a balsa wood boat, that means, ipso facto, ancient peoples did it.

                  2. And nothing else happened.

                  3. “Malice Aforethought”

                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malice_aforethought

                    A common mistake that drives me unreasonably crazy.

          2. I’m thinking the same thing.

            Maybe the windows weren’t up as they say, and someone other than the cops shot him with a drop gun?

            I don’t see the cops executing him in the car like that, leaving a big mess.

            Even if he did commit contempt of cop, that usually results in a beating, not execution.

            1. Walking up to a cop car and shooting the guy inside point blank takes some serious balls.

              1. I could see it if they were a ways away and not paying attention.

                1. That is just as likely as anything.

                2. Well, they did supposedly hear a gunshot in a car beside them and thought it was a passing car. And searched a subject twice and didn’t find a gun.

                  Let’s say this string of improbable events happened… they are still dumbasses that need to be fired. Carter The Contortionist could have shot them both when they got back in the car.

              2. Well, the Aunt was on the scene according to the report. Maybe she dropped off the perpetrator. It’s as plausible as a cop shooting someone handcuffed in the back seat of a car after no struggle or animosity shown toward the victim in any of the video provided.

              3. There was a story a few years ago*. DC medics were working a shooting in the unit and the guy opens the doors, orders the medics out and finished off the patient. said if he wanted him alive he wouldn’t have shot him.

                *I heard this training in maybe 2000. who knows how the story changed by the time it circled the fire depart and made to my class.

            2. The report says the kid died at the hospital. Why would you let someone you just shot while handcuffed in the back seat of a car live long enough to be treated at a hospital? The kid had anti-depressants in his system. Maybe he was coordinated and depressed enough to place a gun at his temple with his weak hand. He doesn’t seem to have a problem flexing his right arm in the photo

              1. A lot of patients who aren’t exactly breathing when they show up at the hospital get papered up as dying at the hospital.

            3. How about this:

              The cops did find his gun, and instead of a beating, the cops decide to ‘scare him straight’ by tormenting him by putting his gun to his temple and threatening to end his life (they would definitely want the dashcams off for that)

              Then, officer butterfingers pulls the trigger.

              1. More likely, butterscotchfrostingfingers, but otherwise could be.

                An execution in cold blood does seem unlikely, if only because it would be really, really messy, and hard to explain, and the cops would know that.

                But some sort of abuse leading to a major fuck-up, like this, isn’t beyond the imagination.

                The question is, “Did they find a Dick Dale and the Del-Tones CD or MP3 in the patrol car?”

              2. “The cops did find his gun, and instead of a beating, the cops decide to ‘scare him straight’ by tormenting him by putting his gun to his temple and threatening to end his life (they would definitely want the dashcams off for that)

                Then, officer butterfingers pulls the trigger.”

                Okay, we have a kid shot by accident in the back seat of the car. Let’s get him to the hospital and hope he doesn’t survive, so we can claim he did it himself.

                1. How many people survive a contact head shot? Not too much danger of that.

                  What happens when the cops don’t take someone to the hospital when he’s been shot? Bad stuff, to the cops.

                  It doesn’t prove a thing, either way.

                  1. Point is, he was still alive when he entered the hospital. Chances being what they are of surviving, if someone is going to cover up an execution, they’d probably make certain the victim doesn’t survive to the hospital. And if you’re going to cover it up by claiming he had a gun you missed during a search, why the hell would you be stupid enough to say you searched him twice. Why even leave cuffs on him?

                    1. That would be stupid.

                      So would missing a gun that he could get to with his hands cuffed behind his back, in two searches, when they searched him well enough to find a small amount of pot.

                      So it’s stupid vs. stupid. Again, it proves nothing, either way.

                      That’s the point. While we don’t know what happened there, it’s very hard to believe their story.

                      Say they DID screw up and shoot him by accident in a botched attempt to intimidate him (most likely scenario in my mind). I’m going to hazard a guess that they were not exactly calm, nor thinking perfectly straight, after doing this.

                      If they WERE thinking straight enough to tell the perfect story, after doing this, they’d be remarkable sociopaths.

                      So… We’re back to the beginning. Nothing you’ve brought up supports them being straight up with the truth, in the circumstances one would picture.

                      No matter how the guy died, it had to be pretty shocking to anyone around.

                    2. “So would missing a gun that he could get to with his hands cuffed behind his back, in two searches, when they searched him well enough to find a small amount of pot.”

                      Well, that was my point. After botching some attempt to intimidate him it would take some weapons grade stupidity to make up a story that involved searching someone twice for a gun and having the victim killing himself while being handcuffed in a police car then taking him to a hospital still living. I guess we could assume everything said is true except the part where the victim shoots himself. Doesn’t make much sense to me.

                    3. Neither does the victim shooting himself in the head over a pot charge, nor the cops missing a bulky gun that weighs 2 1/2 lbs. loaded, in two searches, thorough enough to find a small amount of weed.

                      If you think THAT makes sense, you’re not thinking it through.

          3. He sassed them?

  4. Aw, crap. I meant:

    then an unknown malfunction turns off the dashcam

    1. Aw, crap. I meant to post that under my post. It’s all falling apart over here, guys.

      1. “It’s all falling apart over here, guys.”

        Kinda like Chavis’s weird tilted-angled composition in this photo?

      2. Get it together man.

  5. Wait, there was an interior dashcam? I thought there was no footage because the police cars were parked ass-to-ass, with the forward-facing cams away from each other.

  6. why they would have shot this guy.

    No cop ever “accidentally” killed an insufficiently deferential perpetrator while attempting to establish dominance. Not ever.

  7. Posted this in last night’s Carter thread, but the coroner’s report states that the gunshot wound was a contact one. Given that the cruiser’s windows weren’t broken, and most cops lock the doors when a handcuffed suspect’s in the back, how’s the hypothetical perpetrator going to stick the muzzle against the side of Carter’s head?

    Also, IMO, it makes it much less likely that horseplay by the officers led to the shooting. You’d think that police officers would be loath to stick the muzzle against the side of his head, even if they were screwing around with his pistol. I guess it still leaves open a fake execution where the geniuses forgot to clear the chamber. Pretty far-fetched, but then, so are all of the possibilities.

    That said, what do we all think would happen if you brought this identical fact pattern to a District Attorney? Think either the police or D.A. would believe you when you said that Carter must’a shot himself in the back of your car, and you have no idea how it happened? Oh, and a camera that would have captured the sight just happens to malfunction? Let me know how jail tastes…

    Finally, I think this video is the winner in the “fucked-up frisk” sweepstakes. You miss a full sized 1911 when you bring the suspect into the station’s interview room?!

    1. Oh, the video is of a suspect killing himself with the aforementioned 1911, in a CA police interview room.

      This probably is unsuitable for work, and is quite graphic.

      1. My FIL quit being a public defender when he went to meet his newest client at a police station, and the defendant grabbed a cop’s gun and shot himself in the head.

    2. It was a Cobra .380. Maybe they figured that it wouldn’t fire when they pulled the trigger, so they didn’t bother to clear it first, before screwing around with their public enemy number one, caught with a bud in his pocket.

      Unluckily for Carter, sometimes even the firing pin of a Cobra manages to set off the primer.

    3. how’s the hypothetical perpetrator going to stick the muzzle against the side of Carter’s head?

      Would you like me to make a video showing you how I could do it?

    4. I dunno, this was pretty disturbing.

    5. Right after the guy shoots himself, the cop says: “Oh fuck. Nobody shook him.”

  8. How can someone shoot oneself in the head if one’s hands are securely bound behind the back? Sounds like a load of rubbish to me. Police lie too, you know.

  9. Has the Interweb, where everyone knows exactly what happened in this case because they were there witnessing it in person, determined if this was a case of police depravity, or simple incompetence?

    Because I’d like to know how I’m supposed to think. ktksbai

    1. Incompetence and depravity are not mutually exclusive.

      1. Obama’s drone war.
        Uwe Boll movies.
        Hollywood producers.

        you’re right!

  10. Cops are expert liars, and they cover very well for one another. I am sure we will NEVER know the truth.

    http://www.Private-IP.tk

  11. Cool. Either the cops are murderers or complete morons; I vote we execute them just to be safe.

  12. The biggest gang strikes again.

  13. Just don’t understand why anyone would mention that he was left handed and feign shock that he shot himself in the head with his right hand. It’s point blank range–he didn’t have to aim and hold steady–his preferred hand wouldn’t enter into it unless he was incapable of using his right hand to touch the right side of his head.

  14. The first time he was frisked they found the pot in his pocket. That is on camera and doesn’t look to be a very through after they found the pot. Putting him in the patrol car uncuffed gave him amble time to hide the gun in the seat before he was cuffed and searched again.

    His being left handed has nothing to do with this. He wasn’t shooting for distance or accuracy, it was a contact shot.

    The “Why would he shoot himself over $10 worth of pot?” doesn’t hold up either. After he was cuffed and searched the second time he knew he was going back to Mississippi on a probation violation.

    1. Mississippi does suck.

    2. His being left handed has nothing to do with this.

      Other than making the suicide scenario more unlikely, that is.

      Sure, its possible, but people are much less likely to handle a gun with their offhand.

    3. Not sure about MS, but here in AZ $10 of weed is a felony–any quantity, to be precise. I personally know people who got arrested over a half-gram.

  15. I don’t get the big deal on him being left-handed.

    I’m left-handed and shooting a gun with my right is no big deal.

    (although I doubt he shot himself)

  16. I have no idea whether he shot himself, but I agree with Ragnar that the question of his left-handedness is irrelevant.

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  18. He contracted a deadly case of ‘Arrested while black.’

  19. Instead, the report says Carter’s death was http://www.airmaxsalle.com/hom…..-c-32.html ruled a suicide based on autopsy findings and investigative conclusions from the Jonesboro Police Department, which has faced questions from Carter’s family and community members about the circumstances surrounding the July 28 death.

  20. As the officers walked toward the second patrol car to interview the other suspects, the report says, “I saw a vehicle http://www.airmaxhall.com/wome…..1-c-1.html driving north on Haltom and then heard a loud thump with a metallic sound. I thought the vehicle had ran over a piece of metal on the roadway.”

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  23. I am left handed. I write and use a fork with my left hand but I do many things right handed, including shoot.

  24. First question “How many of you have ever been through a police academy?

    Second “How many hunters etc…you know shoot right handed while being left?

    I’ll go ahead and answer that one…all of them unless they special order a left handed gun. Period

    First thing taught in Arkansas Police Academy is searching. I can vouch personally that you CAN hide stuff where it’s not found!!! 1 instructor had over 15 weapons on him and I assure you they were not found including full size hand guns.

    As far as the camera, etc, go it bothers me too that so much is missing.

    I also know that putting cuffs on people is a bitch. First thing they do is cry they’re to tight so we loosen them. Now you see why we initially put them on so tight!!!

    I don’t know the officers involved, but I do know if this were two black cops, or everyone white nothing more would be said. I’m so f****** tired of hearing about race that if I’m on a call and the complainant insinuates I’m racist if its involving black/white and they’re wrong, ill walk off and leave the scene.

    Only person who knows what happened is dead. How about respecting him, and let GOD do the final judging if your religious. If not you should care anyway!!!

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