ABC24 posted the autopsy report completed by Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Stephen A. Erickson.
In consideration of the circumstances of death and after autopsy of the body, it is our opinion that Chavis Carter, a 21-year-old black male, died of a gunshot wound of the head. The agencies responsible for the investigation of his death were the Jonesboro Police Department and the Craighead County Coroner's Office. They reported that he was detained during a traffic stop. He was cuffed and placed into a police car, where apparently he produced a weapon, and despite being handcuffed, shot himself in the head.
At autopsy, the cause of death was a perforating gunshot wound of the head. At the time of discharge, the muzzle of the gun was placed against the right temporal scalp. The bullet perforated the cranial cavity, causing brain injuries, skull fractures, and death. The bullet exited the left side of the head. The manner of death is based on both autopsy findings and the investigative conclusions of the Jonesboro Police Department.
MANNER OF DEATH: Suicide
Chavis Carter died on July 28, 2012, following a traffic stop when the pick-up in which he was a passenger, was pulled over by Officers Keith Baggett and Ron Marsh.
A felony warrant stemming from a 2010 conviction for selling marijuana as well as “some marijuana” on his person were discovered. Carter was handcuffed and placed in the back of the police cruiser. Despite checking him twice, he was found to have no weapon.
What reportedly followed next is one the most bizarre, and, to some, highly implausible feats reminiscent of a Houdini act.
According to the police report
, while away from the vehicle, they heard a sound and came to find Carter slumped over in the back seat. He was bleeding from his head and there on the seat next to him was found a small caliber handgun.
He was later pronounced dead at the hospital. And the police called it a suicide.
The family was both shocked and angered at the thought stating that Chavis would never have taken his life and had never exhibited suicidal thoughts.
Both officers were placed on administrative leave pending the investigation and KSDK
reported FBI involvement in the case.
On August 17, 2012, police released a video reenactment
showing how they believe Carter could have shot himself.
spoke with Dr. Michael Baden,
forensic pathologist famous for the O.J. Simpson trial. He stated the suicide ruling was “possible,” but still “very unlikely.” He further added, “The lack of a dominant hand is less relevant...than if he was free to use both his hands.” Carter was left handed and suffered a contact wound through the right temple.
No word yet on the FBI’s findings and whether or not they will continue to investigate in light of the autopsy results.