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Death of man handcuffed in police car ruled a suicide

Posted at 6:03 PM, Aug 20, 2012
and last updated 2012-08-20 18:03:42-04

Jonesboro, AR (by George Brown)—Police have ruled that the death of a young man found with a gunshot wound to the head while handcuffed in the squad car was a suicide.

WREG, News Channel 3, has obtained a copy of the autopsy performed on Chavis Carter, which determined Carter had drugs and alcohol in his system and ruled his death a suicide. [Click HERE for complete coverage of this case.]

There is no word on tests to show whether there was gun powder residue on Carter’s hands.

Carter died due to a gunshot wound to his head, while in the back of a Jonesboro, AR police car.

Police say Carter had a gun hidden on him that was missed in a search.

Some have theorized Carter was trying to get the gun off of his person when it accidentally fired.

Carter’s family does not believe he shot himself. His mother has said previously that Carter was left-handed.

The autopsy was done by the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory.

Carter tested positive for methamphetamine, anti-anxiety medication and other drugs as well as alcohol.

The autopsy notes Carter was shot in the right temple at close range.

The examiner ruled the death a suicide.

Carter was arrested for an outstanding warrant and for possession of marijuana.

Below is the Opinion as stated in the report:

“In consideration of the circumstances of death and after autopsy of the body, it is our opinion that Chavis Carter, a 21-year-old black male, died of a gunshot wound of the head.

The agencies responsible for the investigation of his death were the Jonesboro Police Department and the Craighead County Coroner’s Office.

They reported that he was detained during a traffic stop.

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

At autopsy, the cause of death was a perforating gunshot wound of the head. At the time of
discharge, the muzzle of the gun was placed against the right temporal scalp.

The bullet perforated the cranial cavity, causing brain injuries, skull fractures, and death.

The bullet exited the left side of the head.

The manner of death is based on both autopsy findings and the investigative conclusions of the Jonesboro Police Department.”

The New York Daily News quoted Jonesboro Police Chief Michael Yates as saying a dashboard-camera video and accounts from unnamed witnesses “tend to support” Baggett and Marsh’s account. The two officers were placed on paid administrative leave, pending results of the probe.

The FBI is monitoring the police investigation and will perform ballistics tests on the .380-caliber, cobra semi-automatic handgun found near his body.

The gun had been reported stolen in Jonesboro, a month before.