How did a handcuffed man kill himself in a cop car? Police stage reenactment

Screenshot from Jonesboro Police Department video, courtesy of
Jonesboro, Arkansas police know that the mysterious death of Chavis Carter raises a lot of questions. To help make sense of it, they’ve released a video of how they think the 21 year old shot himself in the head while cuffed in the back of a cop car.

The July 29 shooting death of Carter has attracted the attention of the national media and even the FBI in only a few short weeks. But as multiple investigations are launched to get to the bottom of the incident, the Jonesboro Police Department continues to stick to their story that Carter shot himself in the head, while handcuffed, shortly after being brought into custody for marijuana possession.

Even though the force says that police officers searched Carter twice before putting him in their cruiser, they are adamant that their suspect was armed at the time of his arrest and that law enforcement agents somehow managed to overlook a small, .380 caliber handgun involved in the killing. Officers found the gun and a spent cartridge only after Carter was killed.

The Jonesboro Police Department has put together a video that shows how easily Carter could have very well removed a pistol from his waistband while handcuffed and shot himself in the head. Critics are concerned even still though and say that the theory doesn’t add up.

“Look where the handcuffs are,”‘ Teresa Carter, Chavis’ mother, tells WREG News after watching the video. “I’m still not buying that.”

The Huffington Post reports that Teresa Carter is also critical of where the bullet entered her son’s head: although Chavis was left handed, law enforcement officers insist he managed to maneuver a .38 pistol out of his shorts and shoot himself in his right temple.

Police Chief Michael Yates had originally called the death “bizarre” and against all logic, but while commenting to CNN in recent days, reversed that stance.

“The average person that’s never been in handcuffs, that’s never been around inmates and people in custody would react exactly the same way that you just did, about how can that be possible,” Yates says to CNN’s Randi Kaye. “Well the fact of it is, it’s very possible and it’s quite easy.”

In a disclaimer that accompanies the department’s recreation at what could have happened, the agency says, “The circumstances displayed are not intended to illustrate the only means by which an individual could injure themselves but merely to determine the feasibility of these actions. The investigation is active and awaits forensic and other investigative material that will be used to complete a full inquiry into this matter.”

Cassie Carter, great-aunt of the deceased, has expressed her doubts with the department’s allegations too. Speaking to the Associated Press, Carter says that she doesn’t believe that cops couldn’t have found a handgun on their suspect’s person, even though they claim to have searched him twice before cuffing him.

"If you could find a dime bag of marijuana on a person, you could find a .380," she tells AP.

Two officers linked to the death are on paid administrative leave while investigations continue.