Mystery death of 21-year-old black man in US police car raises questions, concerns
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Hours after police released an autopsy report that ruled the shooting death of a young black man in the back of a patrol car a suicide, dozens of the man's supporters gathered Tuesday in Memphis for a candlelight vigil.
The report from the Arkansas state crime lab says Chavis Carter, 21, tested positive for methamphetamine, anti-anxiety medication and other drugs. It ruled his death a suicide and says the muzzle of a handgun he apparently concealed from arresting officers was placed against his right temple when it was fired.
Instead of focusing on the newly released report, some supporters at the vigil were asking more questions. "How (did) he shoot himself in his right temple and he (was) left-handed? In handcuffs?'' one of his friends, Bianca Tipton, asked.
The report says Carter's death was ruled a suicide based on autopsy findings and investigative conclusions from the Jonesboro Police Department. "He was cuffed and placed into a police car, where apparently he produced a weapon, and despite being handcuffed, shot himself in the head,'' the report says of the July 28 death. Carter's urine test returned a positive result for marijuana.
Benjamin Irwin, a lawyer representing Carter's family, asked the police to release details of any gunpowder residue test. "If those tests were taken ... what were the results?'' Irwin asked.
Police have said officers frisked Carter twice after a traffic stop without finding a gun, but the department's internal investigation continues. Two other men who were in a truck with him during the stop and the two officers who were on the scene are white, according to police.
The autopsy report comes days after police released dashboard camera video recorded the night Carter was shot in Jonesboro. Part of the video shows Carter being patted down and ends before officers found Carter slumped over and bleeding in the back of a patrol car.
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