Police: Man shot in squad car called girlfriend

Associated Press Modified: August 23, 2012 at 6:31 am •  Published: August 23, 2012
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Police in Jonesboro say the girlfriend of a man shot to death in the back of a squad car told an investigator he had called her from the car and said he had a gun.

In a four-page statement police offered several new details about the investigation into the July 28 death of Chavis Carter, 21. Earlier this week, an autopsy report ruled that Carter's death was a suicide.

Carter's girlfriend, who was not identified in the report, also told the investigator that Carter said he loved her and that he was scared, according to the police statement. Phone records showed Carter made two calls, at least one of which was from the back of the patrol car, police said.

Benjamin Irwin, a Memphis, Tenn., lawyer representing Carter's family, said in an emailed response early Thursday that "in previous reports and information we had about (the girlfriend) was that no mention of a gun during the call was included. ...

"After watching the other witness interviews, I can only speculate that the interview involved a lot of leading questions by the investigator."

Police have been facing criticism since they said officers searched Carter twice but didn't find a gun before he was fatally shot in a patrol car. Race is also an issue in the case because Carter was black and police have said the two officers who stopped the truck he was in are white.

The police statement said there appears to be no doubt that an officer missed the gun when he initially patted Carter down.

"It is presumed that Carter secreted the gun in the rear of the car after the pat-down but before the cuffing and second search," the statement said.

The statement said it was meant to be "a brief preliminary investigative summary" and noted that the investigation into Carter's death isn't complete. However, the statement said evidence and witness statements support the medical examiner's conclusion that Carter killed himself.

"I think the critical points still remain that this young man was in police custody," Irwin said Wednesday. "He lost his life at a time when they had a responsibility and duty to protect him."

Spokesman Sgt. Lyle Waterworth didn't respond to an email or phone message seeking further comment.

Police also said they tracked down a man from a video on Carter's phone who said he sent Carter a text message asking him to bring him a gun shortly before his run-in with the officers. That man also said Carter was involved with a drug deal involving 4 ounces of marijuana, police said.

Police have said officers found marijuana on Carter when they searched him. The autopsy report also said he tested positive for meth and other drugs.

The police statement also said blood spatter on Carter's right hand showed his hand was close to the contact wound on his right temple. Blood was also on a rear passenger door of the patrol car, police said.



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