The Logic Defying Death of Chavis Carter.

The late Chavis Carter. Small-time drug user. World’s greatest contortionist?

Here’s a fun activity for you fans of Cops who enjoy doing your own reenactments. . Hide a gun on your body. Get a buddy to handcuff you with your hands behind your back. Then have him search you. Twice. Make sure you stash it somewhere good so he can’t find it, but you can get to it when you need it. Now sit down in the backseat of your car. Now with your hands cuffed behind your back, retrieve the gun and since you’re left-handed, shoot yourself in the right side of the temple.

According to the police department of Jonesboro, Arkansas, this is exactlywhat 21-year-old Chavis Chacobie Carter did.

… Chavis Chacobie Carter had been a passenger in a pickup truck when Officer Ron Marsh found “some marijuana” and plastic baggies in his possession. Marsh also determined that Carter had been wanted on a warrant after he missed a court date for drug charges in DeSoto County, Mississippi. 

Marsh then had Carter “exit the patrol unit, placed him into handcuffs, searched him a second time then placed him into the back seat of the patrol unit.” 

Jonesboro Police Sergeant Lyle Waterworth told WREG that Carter had been “handcuffed behind his back and double locked, and searched.”

 At that point, Officer Keith Baggett believed a passing car ran over a piece of metal in the road because he heard “a loud thump with a metallic sound.” Baggett said he then heard “several thumps” after Marsh released the two other suspects. Marsh motioned Baggett over to the patrol car and said the 21-year-old had shot himself.

The two cops have been put on desk duty. Standard operating procedure. Carter’s mom says her son wasn’t suicidal and since he was left-handed but the bullet struck him on the right side of the head, she wants answers. Standard operating procedure.

Most of us will read the details of Carter’s “suicide” and come to a one-word, two-syllable response: bullshit. Why would Carter kill himself over a bullshit drug bust. How incompetent were these two hick cops that they could miss a gun Carter stashed after two searches? How stupid would you have to be to shoot a suspect in the back seat of a cruiser. There are much easier ways to make it look like Carter was trying to escape and justify shooting him. That’s the only reason I’m not ready to say these two cops aren’t guilty as hell.But I’m not going to listen to any “experts” on the news cautioning how we must reserve judgment and not reach any conclusions before the facts are all in. If this all sounds familiar it’s because we just went through this in February with Trayvon Martin.   Yet it’s not the tragedy of Trayvon, but the case Carter’s mysterious death echoes is the killing of Oscar Grant who was handcuffed and lying face-down when a transit cop shot him in the back.

What comes next is the what always comes next.  Some expert who used to be in law enforcement will agree we need to get to the bottom of what happened in the back of that Jonesboro police cruiser and that everyone needs to chill and let the system go forward.   Or to put it another way, “Y’all be cool and while we try and put the lid back on this mess.”

Oscar Grant was handcuffed too, but he didn’t have to shoot himself.

The problem with leaving things up to the system is the system is much more effective in exonerating the killers of young Black men than they are punishing them especially when they wear a badge.   If only George Zimmerman had been successful in his attempts to become a cop.   He could have blown Trayvon Martin away and be up for a medal of valor instead of facing a murder rap.

Like I said, not enough of the facts are known to assess blame in the Carter case, but  there are limits to how many “experts” I can defer to when I know how often interactions between cops and African-Americans end badly.

Maybe Carter was a contortionist or double-jointed or into yoga, but I have no dobuts that this “internal investigation” noise is bullshit. Why should anyone trust Billie Joe to interview his buddy Jim Bob, and get to the bottom of what really happened?

Billie Joe: Hey, Jim Bob. How’d Carter get ahold of a gun and shoot himself?
Jim Bob: Beats me.
Billie Joe: Okay. Investigation’s over.

“Internal investigation” is just an euphemism for “wait until the heat is off and we’ll slide you back out there after a few weeks off with pay.”

This case needs to be investigated, but not by Sheriff Andy and Deputy Barney Fife. The FBI, Justice Department and state law officials need to take over this “investigation” before it turns into another just another dead Black suspect in custody whitewash (which is where it’s headed).

The police chief himself says the shooting is “bizarre and defies logic at first glance.” Needless to say, the autopsy results will be very interesting.

We have been here before. With Trayvon Martin. With Oscar Grant. With Sean Bell. With Amadou Diallo. Over and over and over again. Black suspects and White cops mean dead Black suspects.

We’ve been here before and here we go again.

Teresa Carter is another mother wondering why her son is dead.

2 thoughts on “The Logic Defying Death of Chavis Carter.

  1. I am not at all certain I trust any of the three letter acronyms or the Justice Department any longer to investigate these cases. I have yet to see them in fact conduct an investigation resulting in anything other than a pat on the azz of their friends with badges, a few extra weeks of sweating bullets and a then, well then just same old same old.

    This, this is criminal. These acts of violence are not just criminal, these are the forerunners of the Russian Anti-Jewish Progroms of the 19th and 20th centuries. These are the forerunners of our internment of the Japanese Americans during WWII. These are the return of legal lynching and Jim Crow, we see it across the nation. We have seen it since Ronald Reagan and his Welfare Queens, it is simply more blatant today, more in your face since the election of Barack Obama to the Oval Office.

    The sheets are peeled back, the masks are off and we are a deeply disturbed nation.


  2. My thoughts about internal investigations are pretty much what you say about them. How can the public have any kind of trust in these behind-closed-doors inquiries?

    There have been protests in the streets in Anaheim, CA in the last few weeks over the police shooting of an unarmed Latino man. The public is demanding an external investigation and not an internal coverup. When ordinary citizens are taking to the streets to protest police abuse, there’s obviously something amiss.

    The case of Chavis Carter, to use a line from my departed Dad, “stinks to high heaven.”


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