Remember last year when two non-white teens in separate situations managed to shoot themselves in the head while handcuffed behind their backs in the backseat of a police car after being searched? Well, it’s happened again, this time in Durham, North Carolina where police say a 17-year-old named Jesus Huerta pulled a gun out of thin air and shot himself in the head in the back of a police car while his hands were handcuffed behind his back.
Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez has had a pretty difficult time explaining exactly what happened to Jesus Huerta last week, only going so far as to say a gun was found in the backseat, and no one is quite sure how it got there or if Huerta meant to shoot himself or not — while his hands were cuffed behind the back, in police custody — after being searched.
“I know that it is hard for people not in law enforcement to understand how someone could be capable of shooting themselves while handcuffed behind the back,” Lopez said. “While incidents like this are not common, they unfortunately have happened in other jurisdictions in the past.”
These types of incidents have happened in the past, in fact just look back to last year when two cases of young men in the south shooting themselves in the head – while handcuffed behind the back, in police custody, after being searched, made national headlines.
In August of this year, police in Jonesboro, Ark. claimed that Chavis Carter, 21, committed suicide while in the back of a patrol car. He was handcuffed at the time and had already been searched for weapons. Somehow, according to the police report, the search missed Carter’s concealed handgun and the young man — found to be on a number of amphetamines and sedatives at the time — managed to reach around his back to shoot himself in the right side of his head, despite being left-handed. Dr. Isaac Richmond, national director of the Memphis-based Commission on Religion and Racism, called the police’s account “a cold-blooded calculated lie,” but a state autopsy fell in line with the suicide narrative.
There are only a few options as to what can really be going on here, and none of them, unfortunately, are that much better than the other. Either police in the south are shooting black and latino youths in the head with unmarked weapons while in custody, or police in the south are not following proper procedures when it comes to arresting black and latino youths, leaving them vulnerable to acts of desperation while in police custody.
Either way, the smoking gun is still firmly in the hands of the police officers, because as “improbable” as it may sound to us uninformed folk “not in law enforcement” that a teenager who has been searched, put into the back of a police car, and handcuffed behind his back can shoot himself in the head, there’s a reason why most of us don’t believe it:
Because it IS “improbable,” and that word comes directly from a Police Chief himself.
Watch what happened to Chavis Carter in the video below from The Young Turks: