Police in Jonesboro, Arkansas continue to investigate the mysterious shooting of 21-year-old Chavis Carter, who police officers said killed himself while handcuffed in the back of a squad car. Media attention and community tensions have escalated since Carter’s death on July 28th. Early in the investigation on August 1st, Police Chief Michael Yates admitted that the alleged suicide seemed “bizarre” and “defied logic at first glance” but maintained that witnesses and a dashboard camera backed up the officers’ account. A week later, Yates seems to have doubled down, telling CNN’s Randi Kaye that, in fact, it could be “very possible” and “quite easy” for someone who is experienced with being arrested:
CNN: Is it even possible physically to be handcuffed behind your back and somehow pull the trigger on a gun that you weren’t holding when you were handcuffed?
YATES: For 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. Well the fact of it is, it’s very possible and it’s quite easy.
It’s not clear how familiar Chavis Carter was with handcuffs or inmates, but the outstanding warrant that originally raised the cops’ suspicions was for a first time offense of selling marijuana.
Watch the CNN segment:
The police have said repeatedly that the dashboard camera and witnesses place the officers outside the car at the time of the shooting. But Yates told CNN that the dashboard video does not actually show the moment the gun was fired, nor does it capture Carter sitting in the back seat.
Carter’s mother says she has hired an attorney from the Johnnie Cochran law firm because police won’t tell her anything while the investigation is open. The autopsy, which could help shed light on the angle and distance at which the bullet entered Carter’s head, is expected to be released soon.