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FBI investigating Chavis Carter shooting case

5:57 PM, Aug 15, 2012   |    comments
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By Randi Kaye

Jonesboro, AR (WREG/CNN) - Police in Jonesboro, Arkansas say a 21-year-old suspect shot himself in the head while handcuffed in the back of a squad car.

The case is now being investigated by the FBI.

How Chavis Carter managed to shoot himself while handcuffed, using a concealed weapon police missed during not one but two searches is a mystery to many, including the FBI who is looking at it.

[Reporter]: "In their searching they find a small bag $10 worth of marijuana but they miss a gun?"

"Apparently," said Chief Michael Yates.

[Reporter]: "Is that disappointing to you?"

"Yes," said Yates.

He says the two men with Carter were released and left the scene before the shooting, but Carter was held back after the officers discovered he'd given them a fake name and there was a warrant for his arrest in Mississippi, where he'd skipped out on a drug diversion program.

The chief says his officers don't know exactly when the fatal shot was fired, even though they were just feet away.

According to the incident report, one of the officers heard "a loud thump with a metallic sound" but thought it came from a vehicle that ran over a piece of metal on the roadway.

[Reporter]: "Don't your officers know the sound of a gun being fired?"

"One would think, but when those guns are in a confined space like the rear of a police car, it could be very very different," said Yates.

It wasn't until the officers were about to leave when police say one of them smelled something burning in his vehicle. The chief says it was likely gun smoke. That's when police say the officer found Carter bloodied and slumped over in the backseat.

The officers say they called an ambulance and tried to revive Carter, but he died at the hospital.

Carter's mother says it just doesn't add up. She told reporters her son was shot in the right side of the head, but she points out, he was left handed.

Police would only say he was shot in the head.

"They searched him twice. I just want to know what really happened," said Theresa Carter.

She says her son called his girlfriend from the scene to tell her he'd phone her from jail, which to her raises the question, does that sound like someone planning to commit suicide?

Jonesboro police released a video reenactment of how Carter could have shot and killed himself while handcuffed. The department says it used an officer matching Carter's height and weight.

WREG/CNN

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