Lawsuit: Jonesboro PD Violated Chavis Carter's Civil Rights

Lawsuit: Jonesboro PD Violated Chavis Carter's Civil Rights

Seeking answers they say still allude them, the family of a Southaven man who died in the back of a Jonesboro Police car is suing the city, its police chief, and two officers.
Memphis, TN -- Seeking answers they say still allude them, the family of a Southaven man who died in the back of a Jonesboro Police car is suing the city, its police chief, and two officers.

Lawyers for Chavis Carter's family filed the lawsuit Friday in Jonesboro.

"The million dollar question is what went wrong here," said Darrell O'Neal, who represents the family.

Carter died on July 28th after a truck he was riding in was pulled over during a traffic stop in Jonesboro. In the weeks that followed, Jonesboro Police took the unusual step of opening up nearly all of its case file into Carter's death. 

The conclusion: Carter committed suicide with a gun officers missed during two separate searches of him. The Arkansas State Crime Lab said Carter shot himself in the right temple, and the medical examiner listed Carter's official cause of death as suicide.

"There are no fingerprints on the gun, did he shoot himself in the head at point blank range and then wipe off the gun?" said Ursula Holmes, a lawyer for Carter's family. "It makes no sense."

"We have a bunch of puzzle pieces but none of them are fitting together," she added.

According to the lawsuit, Carter's civil rights were violated, including the Fourth Amendment which guards against unreasonable search and seizures. 

O'Neal and Holmes say they believe Carter should have never been detained.

The lawsuit states the officers never had probable cause to detain Carter, saying the officers had, "no discussion regarding any valid reason, probable cause, suspicion of illegal activity, nor any expression of concern by the officers for their safety that would warrant unreasonably extending the duration of the stop by removing Chavis Carter from the truck."

The suit also alleges negligence and names the City of Jonesboro, Police Chief Michael Yates, and officers Ronald Marsh and Keith Baggett.

Reached for comment on Friday night, Yates said he hadn't heard about the lawsuit.

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