Man Killed While Handcuffed in Squad Car, Cops Say Suicide

Chavis Carter was shot in the right temple while handcuffed in the back of a squad car. Now two Jonesboro, Ark. police officers are on leave while investigators try to figure out just what happened Saturday night.

Carter, 21, was a passenger in a pickup truck pulled over by Officer Keith Baggett. Baggett said another police officer, Ron Marsh, found “some marijuana,” as well as new plastic baggies. Carter, who was African American, had an outstanding warrant in Mississippi, so police arrested him, searched him, and handcuffed him behind his back.

Baggett said that Carter was “placed [...] into handcuffs, searched [...] a second time then placed [...] into the back seat of the patrol unit.” According to Baggett, he and Marsh walked over to the other squad car on the scene, when they heard “a loud thump with a metallic sound.” The two officers did not react to the noise, because, according to Baggett, they thought the sound came from the road. They questioned and then released the other men who were in the pickup.

According to Baggett, he was about to leave when Marsh got his attention, telling him that Carter had shot himself.

The officers said that Carter was in a “sitting position slumped forward with his head in his lap.” He was taken to St. Bernards Regional Medical Center, where he died of his wounds.

While the police officers maintain that Carter must have shot himself with a gun missed in the search, Carter’s family has expressed strong doubts about the veracity of the police account.

“I think they killed him, my son wasn’t suicidal,” said Carter’s mother, Teresa, according to ThinkProgress.

Carter’s mother said that that he had called his girlfriend when he got pulled over to alert her that he would call her from jail. He also was shot in the right temple, despite being left-handed and, perhaps more remarkable, being handcuffed behind his back.

However, Jonesboro police maintain that Carter committed suicide.

“Any given officer has missed something on a search, be it drugs, knife, razor blades, this instance it happened to be a gun,” said Jonesboro Police Sergeant Lyle Waterworth.

Officers Baggett and Marsh are on administrative leave.

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Image Credit: Carter Family


Christine Stewart

Outrageous situation

Carole R.
Carole R3 years ago

Oh dear

Chris Gapske
Chris Gapske4 years ago

OK This is horrable.

It is not so simple but could it be that they were pressing him for more informaion when opps trigger went off and we shot the guy.

Could be the guy did shoot himself.

You never know when drugs are involved.

Complain about police black or white they are going to be the first number you call if you neighbor is running around his yard naked with a gun.

I do not support muder and this is way out there but he should not have been in that position.

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson5 years ago

it definitely sounds very fishy. are these cops dirty cops? a formal investigation should be done and NOT by the same police station either

Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin5 years ago

Yes, and I forgot: Searched not just once but twice by officer dingbat and his buddy. Was it a slow day? Had they not reached their quota of dead pot smokers or did they just want to save themselves some time filling out a report and save the county some money on a court case? Fire them and prosecute, at least for negligance. Unfortunately, there's no crime to be stupid.

Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin5 years ago

Yes, Christopher F. Char I, Charli S.and Michael G.: You are so correct. Even I, that are quite able to move body parts around, am not able to move both my hands (that are stuck together) up to the right side of my head (or even get a good angle to have the bullet hit). But I guess those 20-ish that voted yes also believes in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and Mr. Sandman!

Marie Therese Hanulak

Murdering cops. They should be hanged froma tree.

Michael G.
Michael T5 years ago

Sorry Cheryl you wrote If a person is heavy-set or has short arms, yes, it would be next to impossible but for a thin, agile young person, with the handcuffs double-locked and sitting in a crouched position, it IS possible to get a gun up to the side of one's head.

I'd have to see that to believe that. Experience in being around people so handcuffed, that dog won't hunt.

Cheryl C.
Cheryl C.5 years ago

My opinion will not be popular on this site, but I can't sit by and say nothing. My heart goes out to everyone involved in this situation; I can't imagine losing a child in this way and I can't imagine being the officers involved, but those of you who are attempting to make this a race issue are missing the point. The big question, in my mind, is what was going on in Mr. Carter's mind that would make him take such drastic action? Surely there is more to this story than the one warrant in Mississippi.

Today's media gets a lot of information out. Unfortunately, it's very often not complete or completely wrong. One of the articles mentioned that the handcuffs were "double-locked" and unless you know who to ask or are familiar with handcuffs, this can be confusing. Double-locking the cuffs ensures that they don't continue to tighten on the prisoner's wrists as he or she moves around; they're locked in a more open position so as not to cause undo discomfort and allow more freedom of movement. Since this incident occurred, I've seen several people attempt the move so many people here say was impossible. If a person is heavy-set or has short arms, yes, it would be next to impossible but for a thin, agile young person, with the handcuffs double-locked and sitting in a crouched position, it IS possible to get a gun up to the side of one's head.

It's so easy to judge when we weren't there to see what actually happened. And, isn't is much easier to look for people's faults than f

Michael G.
Michael T5 years ago

Charli, I posted this a couple of days ago.

But do me a favor for a minute. Let go of your mouse and put your hands behind your back. Hopefully you have a water pistol, so fill it with water, and see if you can hold that water gun with your hands behind your back, aim it at your right temple, you can bend your head over as much as you can, and see if you can hit yourself in the right temple with the first shot.

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