Chavis Carter case: Officers released 2 others before alleged 'suicide'

JONESBORO, Ark. – Chavis Chacobie Carter’s fatal shooting while handcuffed in the back of a patrol car occurred while police detained, and then released, two other men who were with Carter that night, the police incident report by one of the officers on the scene reveals.

A narrative of the arrest and death of Carter, 21, which the police report labels a suicide, reveals details about the case, including the presence of potential witnesses, all of whom officers said were driving away from the scene when gunshots rang out in the back of a patrol car Saturday night, leaving Carter fatally wounded.

Jonesboro, Arkansas police officer Keith Baggett says he was dispatched to investigate a suspicious vehicle on the night of July 28th, a Saturday, following reports of a white truck “driving up and down” Haltom Street with its lights off. Baggett stated in his report that he approached the white Chevrolet truck, which was parked with just its parking lights on, and found three people inside, all sitting in the front seats — a white male driver, not named in the report because he is 17 years old, a second white male, 19-year-old Timothy Teal of Missouri, and a 21-year-old black male sitting in the passenger seat, who initially gave his name as Laryan Bowman. Baggett said only the driver produced identification.

Baggett says he questioned the three and was told by Teal that they were waiting for his cousin, whom he said lived on Haltom Street. Baggett says he radioed the men’s names in to dispatch, and requested back-up. Soon after, Officer Ron Marsh arrived.

Baggett says Teal produced a Missouri ID and that “Bowman” said he was from Tennessee. When Marsh, arrived, Baggett said he asked the officer to remove “Bowman” from the truck, while Baggett frisked and questioned the two other men.

Bowman was placed into the back of Marsh’s patrol car un-handcuffed, while Baggett said he was given permission by the 17-year-old driver to search the truck. He says that while he was searching the vehicle, Marsh told him he found marijuana on Bowman and that Bowman’s real name was Chavis Chacobie Carter, of Mississippi.

Baggett’s report states that Marsh ran Carter’s name and discovered that he had an open warrant, from Desoto County, Mississppi. The officer says that he also found a set of scales under the passenger seat of the truck, where Carter had been sitting. He stated that he opened the scales and smelled a “strong odor of marijuana.” Baggett wrote that he and Marsh placed the driver and Teal into handcuffs, after the men denied knowing anything about the scales. Both were placed into the back of Baggett’s patrol car.

Baggett says he continued his search of the truck and found a plastic bag containing a “white, powdery, granular substance” — also behind the seat near the passenger side. The baggie was tied into a knot, Baggett wrote. He said the driver then told him the truck belonged to his mother and that the substance was “possibly sugar or creamer,” since his mother “sometimes brings food with her to work.”