How Carter managed to shoot himself while handcuffed - using a concealed weapon police missed during not one - but two searches -- is a mystery to many, including the FBI who is looking at it.
The chief says the two men with Carter, who were white, were released and left the scene before the shooting but Carter was held back after the officers - who are also white - discovered he'd given them a fake name and there was a warrant for his arrest in Mississippi, where he'd skipped out on a drug diversion program.
The chief says his officers don't know exactly when the fatal shot was fired, even though they were just feet away. According to this incident report, one of the officers heard "A loud thump with a metallic sound but thought it came from a vehicle that ran over a piece of metal on the roadway."
When asked if his officers know the sound of a gun being fired, the chief replied, "One would think, but when those guns are in a confined space like the rear of a police car, it could be very very different."
It wasn't until the officers were about to leave, when police say one of them smelled something burning in his vehicle. The chief says it was likely gun smoke. That's when police say the officer found Chavis Carter bloodied, and slumped over in the back seat.
The officers say they called an ambulance and tried to revive Carter, who died at the hospital.
Carter's mother says it just doesn't add up. She told reporters her son was shot in the right side of the head, but she points out, he was left-handed. Police would only say he was shot in the head.
"They searched him twice," Theresa Carter says of her son. "I just want to know what really happened."
She says her son called his girlfriend from the scene to tell her he'd phone her from jail which to her raises the question -- does that sound like someone planning to commit suicide?
Jonesboro police released a video reenactment of how Carter could have shot and killed himself while handcuffed.
The department says it used an officer matching Carter's height and weight.