Police: man shot himself while handcuffed in patrol car

There are just some stories that are absolutely bizarre, many of which are officer-involved shootings. From the this-is-total-bullshit files:

A 21-year-old man was found shot in the head while handcuffed in the back of a patrol car Saturday night. Now police have launched an investigation to determine what happened.

Chavis Carter was a passenger in a pickup truck that was stopped by police in Jonesboro, Ark., Saturday night, according to KAIT, an ABC-affiliated television station. An officer reportedly found some marijuana, and ran Carter’s information. He was wanted on a warrant out of Mississippi, so officers placed him in a patrol car.

“As protocol, he was handcuffed behind his back, double-locked and searched,” said Jonesboro Police Department Sgt. Lyle Waterworth in an interview with WREG-TV.

Just minutes later, police said they heard a thumping noise, turned around and found Carter shot in the head.

Waterworth said he thinks Carter pulled out a hidden gun and shot himself. “Any given officer has missed something on a search, you know, be it drugs, be it knives, be it razor blades,” he said. “This instance, it happened to be a gun.”

His mother, Teresa Carter, disagrees. “I think they killed him,” she said. “My son wasn’t suicidal.”

Carter said she was also told her son was shot in the right temple, although he was left-handed. “I mean, I just want to know what really happened,” she told WREG-TV. “That’s all I want to know.”

The two officers who were present when Carter was found shot were placed on administrative leave. (SOURCE)

KAIT, the local ABC news affiliate has a little more detail, which leaves more questions unanswered:

After confirming the warrant, Baggett said Marsh had Carter “exit the patrol unit, placed him into handcuffs, searched him a second time then placed him into the back seat of the patrol unit.”

While he and Officer Marsh walked back to his patrol unit, Officer Baggett said a car passed and then he heard “a loud thump with a metallic sound.”  At the time he believed the vehicle had run over a piece of metal on the road.

After questioning and releasing the other two men, Officer Marsh reportedly returned to his unit while Officer Baggett said he prepared to leave the scene.  He then heard “several thumps” on his trunk and saw Officer Marsh motioning for him.

Officer Marsh reportedly said Carter had shot himself.

The two officers opened the rear passenger side door and found Carter in a “sitting position slumped forward with his head in his lap.”  Officer Marsh said there was a large amount of blood on Carter’s shirt, pants, seat and floor.  He also said Carter’s hands were still cuffed behind his back.  A small caliber handgun was reportedly found beside him.

Seeing that Carter was still breathing, Officer Marsh radioed for an ambulance and a supervisor.  Carter was taken to St. Bernards Regional Medical Center where he later died of his injury.

If Carter was shot in the right temple, as his  mother said she was told, then it appears the officer’s accounts are, well, wrong. How does a person in handcuffs shoot himself in the back of the head? Even if this were true, don’t officers typically do a pat-down search of people before they are placed into a patrol car? If that’s the case, then how would they miss a small caliber handgun?

Something about this story reeks of a cover-up. What do you think?