It was social media, not the traditional sources of news, that brought the nation’s focus on the shooting of Trayvon Martin. During one week, more than a million people signed an online petition calling for the arrest of George Zimmerman.
I am unaware of any petitions today regarding Chavis Carter. Why not? Chavis Carter wasn’t as cute as Trayvon Martin and he was a little older (21). He had longer hair, and he had a history of using marijuana. He was black. The law applied to him as it did to Trayvon Martin. Both died from a gunshot. We know who shot Martin and why. Martin was not shot while in police custody. Carter was. Martin wasn’t in handcuffs when he was shot. Carter was.
On July 28th, 2012 Chavis Carter , a 21 year-old black man was arrested in Jonesboro Arkansas. He had been stopped by police along with two white men because of suspicious driving. The police found drug paraphernalia in the back of the truck. After a search of Chavis Carter, a small bag of pot was discovered on his body. After determining that there was an outstanding warrant for the arrest of Carter in Mississippi, the police decided to arrest Carter. The two white men were allowed to leave the scene, and no charges were filed regarding them. Carter was placed in the back seat of the police car, with handcuffs restraining his hands behind his back.
While in police custody, while handcuffed with his hands behind his back, police claim that Mr. Carter shot himself in the right temple, killing himself. The arresting officers claim they do not know when Mr. Carter shot himself, even though they were only a car length away. It was only when the officers were about to head to the police station that they smelled smoke and noticed Carter slumped over and covered in blood. Police called 911 and tried to revive him, but he later died at a local hospital.
1. How could the police miss a gun on Mr. Carter’s body when they searched him? If they found a small baggie of pot, how could they miss the larger, metal gun?
2. How could Mr. Carter hold a gun to his head if handcuffed behind his back?
3. If Mr. Carter was left handed, as his mother reports, why would he shoot himself in the right temple, instead of using his left hand and shooting from the left side?
4. Why would Mr. Carter take his own life for a mere marijuana possession charge?
5. If the police missed the gun when they searched Mr. Carter’s body, the gun must have been well hidden. If so, how did Mr. Carter get the gun out of its hiding place while handcuffed with his hands behind his back?
6. If Mr. Carter was contemplating suicide, why would he call his girlfriend and tell her he’d call her from jail?
There are inconsistent reports regarding when and how the police discovered that Mr. Carter had been shot. One account reports that the police didn’t hear the shot and didn’t know that Mr. Carter had been shot till they were inside the car and noticed Mr. Carter slumped over. A different source reports that the body was discovered when one officer opened the back door and observed Carter in a sitting position slumped forward with his head in his lap. There was a large amount of blood on the front of his shirt, pants, seat and floor. His hands were still cuffed behind his back.
While the investigation by state police and the FBI is still underway, it seems that more information should have already been reported since the shooting occurred more than twenty days ago. When the police get too involved in defending themselves, we start to wonder if they have a reason to be defensive. The Jonesboro police created this video and posted it on line to demonstrate that the suicide story was possible.
Others have posted a response to this video to express their feelings that the video is not an accurate depiction of what might actually have occurred.
My first reaction is outrage, not only that this occurred, but that it has not been front page news in every major newspaper, and the lead story on every television channel. My second reaction was to hope that because the story is so unbelievable that maybe it is true? Surely if the police were going to make up a story to explain the shooting of a man in custody, they could have fabricated a more believable story than this. Whatever the truth is, we as a country, should be demanding more forensic evidence to explain this death. Where are the two white men, have they been questioned, and if so, why have we not heard their stories? Did they know Mr. Carter had a gun? Did they know where Mr. Carter kept his gun? Was there an autopsy performed? Did the bullet have a level trajectory, or did it enter the skull at a low point and travel toward the top of Mr. Carter’s head as if pointing from waist level toward the head? If the trajectory of the bullet was level, it would seem to support the notion that the police executed Mr. Carter, while he was in custody, and restrained. The time for these answers has passed, which makes this case even more suspicious. Because the police were involved, the urgency is even more paramount. Unlike the Trayvon Martin case, where there was an indication of a police cover-up, this case involves the potential of a police cover-up for the benefit of the police officers involved.