“Jury Decides: Was Police Shooting of Handcuffed Man Criminal?

On Tuesday, a jury in Arkansas began deliberating whether the fatal shooting of a handcuffed man in 2019 was a crime or an accident. The victim, Chavis Carter, was shot in the head while handcuffed in the back of a police car in July of 2019. Despite being searched twice, a gun was later found on Carter’s person. The defense argued the shooting was the result of an accidental discharge. They maintained that due to Carter’s nervousness and incessant movements, an officer’s gun fired while trying to search him a second time. However, prosecutors portrayed the incident as a murder. They stressed the lack of any signs of a struggle and pointed out that Carter’s hands were zip-tied behind his back in the time leading up to the shooting. Carter’s family was present in the courtroom as the jury laboured over a decision. After nearly 10 hours of deliberations, they remained deadlocked. During the trial, the court heard testimony that the officers involved did not have the proper training to use zip ties and were not following protocol when they arrested Carter. The state of Arkansas has asked for a mistrial given that the jury could not come to a unanimous agreement. Prosecutors have stated that they will attempt to retry the case if granted. If convicted, the officers could face up to life in prison. This issue at the heart of this case has been present in the nation for years now which makes it important for the police, the court, and society as a whole to distinguish between legitimate self-defense and the unlawful use of deadly force. The evidence presented in this case must be carefully considered by the court to ensure justice is served. Though the case ended in a mistrial, it stands as a reminder of the importance of understanding every person’s rights and the consequences of police misconduct. With this verdict, the court will be able to set an example in which victims of police brutality can be provided justice.