J. Brad Hicks (bradhicks) wrote,
J. Brad Hicks
bradhicks

Chavis Carter "Suicide" Re-Enactment Doesn't Prove What They Say It Does

I don't know if any of you have been following this story, but the Jonesboro, Arkansas police department has spent the last couple of weeks trying to explain how a handcuffed young black man named Chavis Carter ended up dead in one of their police cars. Despite the fact that Carter's hands were cuffed behind him, and the fact that he was searched for weapons, the coroner has ruled that it was a suicide. No, really.

The Jonesboro police know that nobody believes them about this, so they released a video showing three of their officers, all around the same size as Chavis Carter, were able to contort their handcuffed arms around enough to draw a concealed weapon, raise it to their heads, and simulated fire it at an angle consistent with the gunshot wound. I watched that video, and I can think of at least three reasons why that video doesn't prove what they say it proves.

One: No way a pat-down would have missed a gun there. The gun is shown as being drawn from the right front pocket. This is, quite literally, one of the first places any even rudimentary pat-down would look. There is no way in hell that any cop, no matter how inexperienced, would cuff a suspect without checking his pants pockets for weapons. But if they put the gun anywhere else, their simulated suspects wouldn't have been able to reach it.

Two: They double-locked the cuffs. Notice that the reason they can turn their wrists around in the cuffs, and then pull the cuff on the right arm so far up the arm that the uncuffed part of their arm can reach their heads, is that the cuff is (a) very, very loose and (b) double-locked. Now, look. Back during The Year of the Million-Jillion Tickets (don't ask), I got cuffed by a lot of cops. None of them double-locked the cuffs. Not even when I reminded them to. They absolutely are supposed to double-lock the cuffs to keep them from ratcheting all the way down when the suspect is forced to sit on them. Not double-locking the cuffs can injure the suspect. But no cop that I've ever met actually does so. Under real-world policing situations, there is no way the suspect could have gotten the cuffs that far up his arm. Oh, and ...

Three: Chavis Carter is left-handed. The simulation only works because there's room to the right of where the simulated suspect is sitting for them to squeeze their arm through. If Chavis Carter was sitting where the simulation shows, and if the cuffs were double-locked so they didn't ratchet down on his wrists, and if the gun was in his right front pocket, and if the cops missed a gun that obvious. But even if all of those conditions applied, the simulation also assumes that he's coordinated enough, and determined enough, to shoot himself using just a couple of fingers on his off-hand.

Over a parole violation.

Look, as with a lot of cases, I concede that we don't have proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Chavis Carter mouthed off to the cops and a cop murdered him for it and the rest are covering up for that cop. But it remains a possibility, despite what they claim about that video. And it sure seems to me like it's a lot more likely explanation than the one the cops and the coroner are sticking to. Because I don't believe that any of the parts of that explanation are likely, let alone all of them together.

I read that the Jonesboro PD has invited the FBI to perform their own investigation. I rather hope that they do so. Because they're not helping their case, putting out a blatantly rigged video like that one.

Update: Since this, the two people who called the police in the first place, both of whom watched the event from start to finish, have come forward and said that they heard the gunshot, and that at the time there were no police officers anywhere near the car. If they're telling the truth, if they have no personal animus towards the deceased and their testimony is uncoerced, then we can rule out the obvious explanation. That doesn't change my opinion that the re-enactment video I linked above is bull, especially since Carter was searched not once, but twice, before being put in the car. We're left to speculate on even lower probability but still theoretically possible explanations, like the gun having been somewhere they didn't search, falling, and discharging at just exactly the wrong angle.
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