Jonesboro police respond to criticisms over Chavis case

JONESBORO (KATV) - Police responded Wednesday to criticisms of their actions in the case of a young man who reportedly shot himself while in their custody.

Officers stopped the truck 21-year-old Chavis Carter was in on July 28 after they received a report for a suspicious vehicle. They arrested him after learning he had an outstanding warrant.

Police say they frisked Carter twice and found marijuana on him but no firearms. He was later found dead, having been shot in the head while handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser. Officers later said they simply missed the gun, claiming it was in his pants.

In a written statement Wednesday, Sgt. Lyle Waterworth with Jonesboro police said in part,

"The department must balance the integrity of the on-going investigation with the publics' right to know and understand the facts and circumstances of this tragic event. At this point in time the Jonesboro Police Department (JPD) has received a number of Freedom of Information requests for videos, text messages etc We are attempting to comply with these requests as best we can without compromising the investigation, as it is still incomplete..."

Click here to read the entire release.

One of the greatest concerns critics have raised in this case is the fact that no gunshot residue testing was done on Carter. The Associated Press reported Wednesday that JPD Chief Michael Yates actually requested the testing but a representative with the State Crime Lab said it would not have proven one way or the other if Chavis had pulled the trigger killing himself.

One of the documents released by JPD Wednesday was a memo from the State Crime Lab dated March 20, 2001, which states the lab "will not analyze gunshot residue kits collected from victims of homicides or suicides."

Click here to read the memo in its entirety.

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