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Skeptical Handcuffed Son Shot Himself, Grieving Mother Files Civil Rights Lawsuit

Teresa Carter with photo of her late son Chavis.

By Charlene Muhammad

The mother of a young, Black man fatally shot while handcuffed in the back seat of a police cruiser has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against two Jonesboro Arkansas police officers, their chief, and the city.

Attorneys for Teresa Carter filed the action one year after Officers Ronald Marsh and Keith Baggett claimed while they were not looking, Chavis Carter shot himself with his hands cuffed behind his back.

Police Chief Michael Yates stands by claims that Mr. Carter committed suicide.

“I filed the lawsuit to really get more answers about what happened to my son that night because him killing himself, I’m just not buying that,” Ms. Carter said.

She wants to know why his fingerprints weren’t on the gun; why the police car was cleaned up; and why medical personnel were ordered out of the hospital room for an unspecified period of time.

The days since her son’s death have been very rough, the mother said. “I have so much anger built up. I’ve been stressed, depressed. My life is just tore up right now. And it’s going to be that way until I can get some answers about what did happen to my son on July 28, 2012,” she continued. Her suit was filed July 23.

Part of her healing process was to hold memorials and prayer vigils July 28, in Jonesboro and one in Tunica, to mark the one year anniversary of her child’s death.

The lawsuit and memorial occurred as national protests and outrage over the not guilty verdict for George Zimmerman, who killed Florida teen Trayvon Martin, on charges of second-degree murder.

Activists are working to petition the Department of Justice to open an investigation into allegations of corruption and abuse by the Jonesboro Police Department and for the possible murder of Mr. Carter, according to Kareem Ali, a Muslim activist who has been aiding Ms. Carter and her family.

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