This post was originally written by Malia Litman and posted on Aug. 23, 2012 to malialitman.wordpress.com. After becoming aware of the post made to Cop Block on Nov. 20, 2012, Did Chavis Carter Kill Himself?, she reached out to share her write-up in the hopes that Carter’s death wouldn’t be overlooked.
Five days ago we wondered why more people weren’t talking about the shooting of Chavis Carter. He was a 21 year old black man who was arrested, searched twice, he was in police custody, handcuffed behind his back, sitting in a police car, having been arrested by two white police officers in Jonesboro, Arkansas because there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest in Mississippi. Chavis Carter was shot in the head and died while in custody, with his hands still in handcuffs behind his back.
The police indicated that the death was a suicide. The idea that a man could shoot himself in the head, while handcuffed, was so outrageous, that I hoped that it must be true. Surely if the police were going to shoot a suspect, and claim suicide, they would be smart enough to do it when he didn’t have handcuffs on! This story was so hard to believe that the police themselves created a video demonstrating that it was theoretically possible for a man, handcuffed behind his back, to shoot himself in the head. Here is the video:
What is interesting to notice from the video is that even the police re-enacting how this was theoretically possible, demonstrate that in order to accomplish this magic act the victim must move his hands to the right side of his body, holding the guy in an upright position, and the victim must lean his head downward in order to shoot himself in the head. It is physically impossible for the victim, while handcuffed behind his back, to keep his head upright, and position the gun next to his head and shoot pointing the gun in a downward, and backward direction. The autopsy of Chavis Carter confirms that the shot was fired next to Mr. Carter’s head and in a downward and backward direction! It is the autopsy that proves that the death of Mr. Carter was not a suicide, but in fact an execution of a man restrained, and in custody. Here are the details which prove that Mr. Carter was executed.
A. Inexplicable Facts
Even if Chavis Carter intended to shoot himself, it is problematic that he shot himself in the right side of his head, when he was left handed.
If Chavis Carter was suicidal, it seems unlikely that if he was about to shoot himself that he would call his girlfriend to tell her he’d been arrested, and would call her when he got to jail.
Even though the autopsy report showed evidence of drugs in the blood and urine of Chavis Carter, there was no indication that he resisted arrest or was engaged in any type of violent behavior at the time of his arrest. Even if he was under the influence of drugs, he was able to spell his name, ask the police questions, and “walk fluidly like any normal person.”
Even though police searched Mr. Carter twice they did not find a gun. Their search was sufficiently thorough to locate a small plastic bag of pot, so it would seem that if they could find that small baggie, they could find a gun. While we might imagine the possibility that the police might miss a weapon during a search, it seems likely that if the weapon was so concealed that the police would miss a gun that it would be virtually impossible for a man detained in the back of a car, with handcuffs holding his hands behind his back, to retrieve the weapon.
B. Missing Evidence
The autopsy report documents at page 2 that the hands of Mr. Carter “were enclosed in paper bags at initial examination.” Putting the hands of a suicide victim in paper bags would be important to preserve evidence of the residue left when a gun is fired. If Mr. Carter had in fact shot himself, there should be some residue from the gun shot on his hands. It might include burnt and unburnt particles from the explosive primer, the propellant, or components of the bullet or cartridge, but there would surely be residue. Testing for gunshot residue was not performed on Mr. Carter’s hands.
The police car in question had a camera mounted to record the activities of the police on the occasion in question. Video from the arrest has been produced. The video shows Mr. Carter being patted down, but it ended before officers found Carter slumped over and bleeding in the back of a patrol car. Miraculously the police have also produced video from after the moment Mr. Carter was found slumped over with a bullet hole in his head. Mysteriously, the video of the moment police say Mr. Carter shot himself is missing.
C. Revelations From the Autopsy
Hundreds of articles have appeared across the internet reporting that the autopsy confirmed that the “manner” of Mr. Carter’s death was “suicide.” Page one of the autopsy report lists the “cause of death” to be “gunshot wound of head” and the “manner of death” to be “suicide.” However the more revealing comment of the coroner comes at the end of the report, at page 7. The report states:
“The manner of death is based on both autopsy findings and the investigative conclusions of the Jonesboro Police Department.” The “cause of death,” determined by autopsy, was “a perforating gunshot wound of the head.” (Page 7) Thus the coroner based his decision of the “manner” of death on the report of the Jonesboro Police who reported that it was a suicide, not an execution.
The autopsy report itself reveals that this was an execution, not a suicide. The following are excerpts from the report itself:
1. Pg. 3 – “DESCRIPTION OF GUNSHOT WOUND:
An entrance gunshot wound was present on the right temporal scalp, situated just into the hairline, located 4 inches below the top of the head , 2 inches above and ¾ inches in front of the right external auditory canal…..
The path of the bullet was perforating …, exited the left temporal skull and scalp 1 ½ inches directly above the left external auditory canal , and 4 ½ inches below the top of the head…
The direction was primarily right to left, with slight backward and downward deviation.”
2. Pg. 7 – “FINDINGS:
A. Entrance: Right temporal scalp.
B. Perforating gunshot wound of head, going through the right temporal scalp and skull, …
D. Contact range of fire, with soot and scaring of entrance gunshot wound and dense soot deposition in the underlying soft tissues. …
F. Path: Primarily right to left, with small backward and downward deviation.”
The detailed findings of the autopsy are specific, documented by measurements, and unequivocal. The bullet that entered Mr. Carter’s skull was the result of a gun being held next to his head, and pointed essentially straight but with a slight downward and backward direction. If a man was standing next to the police car, holding a gun to Mr. Carter’s head the path of the bullet would be almost directly straight through the head. However if the arm of the shooter was at a higher level than Mr. Carter’s head, we would expect to see a slight downward and backward movement of the bullet. We saw that! If however Mr. Carter was struggling to take his own life, while handcuffed, he would be unable to shoot himself in the right temple in anything but an upward and forward direction. He would be physically unable to shoot himself at point blank range without bending his head in a downward direction, which would require the bullet path to be forward and toward the top of his head.
Mr. Carter was executed. The only remaining question is ‘By whom?’ Perhaps somebody should ask the two white policemen who were the only people reported to be present?