The family and friends of Chavis Carter are not accepting the autopsy report that ruled his death a suicide. Carter was shot in the head after he was put in the back of a squad car in Arkansas, with many believing that he lost his life at the hands of the police.
Following the release of autopsy findings, Benjamin Irwin, the lawyer representing Carter's family, is demanding that police hand over gun power residue findings to potentially prove that the 21-year-old did not shoot himself. "If those tests were taken ... what were the results?"Irwin said. "They should be disclosing every bit of evidence as quickly as they can."
A candlelight vigil was held in Carter's honor Monday (Aug. 20) at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. "My heart is so heavy," Carter's mother, Teresa, said wiping away tears. She asserts that her son was killed, and would never have taken his own life.
Traces of the drug Oxycodone, and marijuana were both found in Carter's system, which may be used against him in publicly damaging his mental state.
Video surveillance captured by a police dashcam show Carter speaking with police about his outstanding warrant, yet he did not appear to be enraged enough to shoot himself in the head as soon as authorities turned their backs. Also damaging to the Jonesboro Police Department's suicide theory is the fact that the video recording doesn't show Carter shooting himself, which would have likely been captured if officers were indeed away from the car that held the young man, as they have stated.
Carter was also left-handed but shot himself in the right temple, while being restrained in handcuffs. "How [did] he shoot himself in his right temple and he [was] left-handed? In handcuffs?" asked his friend, Bianaca Tipton.
Forensic pathologist, Dr. Michael Baden, also has his doubts. Although not involved in the case, Baden testified during the O.J. Simpson murder trial, and believes that while a person can shoot themselves when wearing handcuffs, Carter did not commit suicide. "It would be possible, I think, but it's still very unlikely that that would happen," Baden told TheGrio. Given the amount of wiggle room in the cuffs (as seen in a video reenacted by police) Carter was likely able to move his hands, yet that isn't enough to convince Baden. "I think a couple of things are still very unlikely, and I've never heard of it happening before," he continued. Baden classified Carter's gunshot as a "contact wound" that would have been difficult to self inflict. He also stated that police are still responsible for Carter's death." If it did happen [the way police said Carter's death occurred,] the police still have entire responsibility for it because when they take someone into custody, they're responsible for his health and welfare.If he dies in their custody they're responsible. At the least, we're talking about very sloppy police work — not finding a gun that he could have used to shoot one of the officers — and it's indicative of poor training of the officers."
Before he was to be transported to the police station, Carter was searched twice. Authorities did not uncover a weapon on his person.
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