Two police officers in Jonesboro, Arkansas, are on paid administrative leave when a 21-year-old man in their custody on a marijuana charge was found dead in the back of their police car. The man, 21-year-old Chavis Carter of Mississippi, was found, handcuffed in the rear seat of the police car, dead of a gunshot wound to the head. A small caliber handgun was found by the body of Carter, which was slumped forward, hands still cuffed behind his back.
According to police reports obtained by KAIT News, Officers Ron Marsh and Keith Baggett had pulled over a pickup truck in which Carter was a passenger. Officer Baggett searched the vehicle while Officer Marsh searched Carter, finding some marijuana and plastic baggies.
Officer Marsh discovered Carter had a warrant back in Mississippi and orders Carter out of the car, handcuffs him with his hands behind his back, and conducts a second search of Carter before placing him in the back of the police car. Officer Baggett says he hears “a loud thump with a metallic sound” which he attributed to a passing car possibly running over a piece of metal in the road, then later “several thumps”. Next, Officer Marsh is calling for Officer Baggett to rush over, saying that Carter had shot himself.
However, the mother of Chavis Carter believes the Officer Marsh shot her son, noting that he was not at all suicidal. WREG TV reports that Carter had called his girlfriend on his cell phone while being pulled over, saying that he would call her from jail. Also, she notes, he was found shot in the right temple, yet her son is left-handed.
The spokesperson for the Jonesboro Police Department, Sgt. Lyle Waterworth, says it is likely that even after being searched twice, Carter pulled out a hidden gun while handcuffed behind his back and shot himself in the right temple. “Any given officer has missed something on a search, you know, be it drugs, be it knives, be it razor blades,” he said. “This instance, it happened to be a gun.”
So, it would seem, the best case scenario to explain the death of this 21-year-old for holding some marijuana is that the Jonesboro police are remarkably inept and incompetent when it comes to searching, arresting, and transporting suicidal weed-dealing left-handed contortionists who lie to their girlfriends. The worst case scenario is too revolting for me to write a joke about.