Police release dash cam in Ark. patrol car shooting

Jonesboro officers say a man was fatally shot himself in the backseat of a patrol car

By Jeannie Nuss
Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Police video taken the night a man was fatally shot in a northeast Arkansas patrol car while his hands were cuffed behind his back doesn't show whether he shot himself in the head as the officers involved said.

Jonesboro police released the video to The Associated Press and other news organizations under a Freedom of Information Act request late Thursday, about three weeks after Chavis Carter, 21, was shot on July 28. The video did not show the shooting and it appeared to end before the officers found Carter slumped over and bleeding in the back of a patrol car as was described in a police report.

"There's still nothing in there about what actually happened with Chavis," said Benjamin Irwin, a Memphis-based lawyer representing Carter's family.

Police agreed to release more video Friday, but that footage wasn't immediately available.

The internal police investigation into the shooting has not yet been completed and the FBI has said it is also monitoring the case.

Sgt. Lyle Waterworth, the spokesman for the Jonesboro police, said Friday morning that he hadn't yet seen the video his department released the night before.

Hours later, he said the camera system in both patrol cars is controlled automatically with an emergency light bar and siren system.

"After the light bar is turned off the camera system ends its recording," Waterworth said in a statement. He didn't respond to email and phone messages seeking further comment.

The video begins when an officer pulls up to a white pickup truck on a dark street in Jonesboro, about 130 miles northeast of Little Rock. He talks to the driver, Carter and another passenger. Police say the officer stopped the truck after someone reported a suspicious vehicle driving up and down the road.

Another officer arrives and searches Carter, who police say initially gave a different name. The officer doesn't appear to find a gun as he pats Carter down, though something else falls to the ground as the officer shines a flashlight toward Carter.

The officer leads Carter, who is not yet handcuffed, toward the patrol cars and then out of the frame. A police report said Carter was placed in the second patrol car without handcuffs, though the video doesn't show that.

Meanwhile, the other officer searches the driver and remaining passenger, who then stand in front of the first patrol car. The officer who searched Carter asked them where the rest of the marijuana was because he found some on Carter.

The driver and other passenger are handcuffed and led out of the frame, too.

Eventually, they appear without handcuffs and the officers let them leave.

They keep Carter, who had an arrest warrant out of Mississippi. Court records show it had to do with a drug-related case.

The video ends after the truck drives away and the officers talk about leaving.

"See ya later," one of the officers says. It sounds like he opens the car door and then the audio cuts out. The blue lights of the police car continue to flash for several seconds, lighting a nearby bush.

Carter was shot in the head, though police have refused to say where.

Police said in a statement that they're still waiting on a complete autopsy report, forensics and toxicology results from the state crime lab.

Copyright 2012 Associated Press

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