Law enforcement officials in Arkansas have released a video reconstruction that is intended to demonstrate how a 21-year-old Black man who was handcuffed behind his back could have shot himself in the head while in the backseat of a patrol car.
The case involved Chavis Carter, from Southaven, Mississippi, who died from a gunshot wound to the temple July 28 despite being frisked twice by police officers in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Both of the officers who arrested him are white, a fact that has generated suspicion and controversy among many Black civil rights and civic leaders.
The police officers in Arkansas stopped a truck in which Carter was riding after receiving a report of a suspicious vehicle driving along a residential street. They arrested Carter after discovering he had an outstanding arrest warrant related to a drug charge in Mississippi. Additionally, the officers said that Carter was carrying marijuana.
The incident and the subsequent investigation have drawn sharp criticisms of the Jonesboro Police Department.
In producing the video, police officers used the same type of handcuffs that were used on Carter and the same model of handgun — a .380-caliber Cobra semi-automatic — found with Carter after he died. They also placed in the video another officer whose height and weight were similar to those of Carter.
In the video, that officer was able to sit in the back seat of the police car while leaning over to lift the gun to his head and pull the trigger.
"We just wanted to get a good perspective on how it could be done and the ease with which it could be done," said Michael Jones, the chief of the Jonesboro Police Department.
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