LITTLE ROCK — The state Crime Lab on Monday ruled the death of a handcuffed man who was shot while sitting in a Jonesboro police vehicle as a suicide.
Chavis Carter, 21, died from a gunshot wound to the head on July 28, after being placed in a police cruiser following a traffic stop in Jonesboro.
The state medical examiner’s office report, dated Friday, said Carter sustained a gunshot wound near his right temple. Crime Lab personnel found dense soot deposits in the area of the wound.
The body also tested positive for amphetamines and marijuana, according to the report.
It said the office based its finding of cause of death on "both autopsy findings and the investigative conclusions of the Jonesboro Police Department.
Police said the vehicle containing Carter and two men was stopped because it matched the description of a vehicle driving with its lights off. In a search of the vehicle and its occupants, officers found marijuana, plastic bags and a set of scales.
Carter was taken into custody after officers determined he was the subject of an arrest warrant in Mississippi for marijuana possession. He was handcuffed, searched by two officers and placed in a police car.
Jonesboro police said Carter apparently produced a weapon that officers failed to discover in two searches and shot himself in the head. The department later produced a video of its recreation of the incident to explain how Carter could have shot himself.
In a statement Monday to Jonesboro televisionstation KAIT, Jonesboro Police Chief Mike Yates said the medical examiner’s finding was consistent with the evidence and witness statements.
"The investigation is not complete at this point, as we are still awaiting information to be returned to us for review," Yates said.
The Arkansas chapter of the Commission on Religion and Racism has criticized Yates’ handling of the Carter incident and has called for his resignation. CORR led protesters in picketing Jonesboro City Hall and the police department last week.
Yates has said he will not step down.