High-powered attorney calls for renewed investigation into Chavis Carter death

Published: Feb. 11, 2015 at 3:56 AM CST|Updated: Feb. 11, 2015 at 3:41 PM CST
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JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Tuesday night served as a call for a renewed investigation and more attention for the Chavis Carter case.

"When people feel like they cannot trust the local law enforcement authorities, they turn to the federal government to say we want equal justice too," Benjamin Crump said at New Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Jonesboro Tuesday evening.

Crump is connected to high-profile cases like Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.

Carter's family, now with Crump on the case, is cautiously optimistic that the Jonesboro Police Department will be properly investigated and reviewed.

Even though Carter's death was ruled a suicide, Crump stood alongside Carter's mother and family members of other young, black men who have died in similar circumstances, to say they've reached out to the Justice Department for a deeper investigation.

"To see if there is a pattern and practice of racial profiling in these police departments," Crump explained.

Crump said the Justice Department is now looking into the police departments of towns in which these deaths happened.

"To review whether or not the police departments were negligent in their training of their officers on how to conduct pat down searches of detained individuals," he said.

But with a very small crowd in attendance, members of the group chastised the city of Jonesboro for a lack of support.

"Shame on this city because we brought with us about as many as is in this church," Marcus Coleman with Saving Ourselves Foundation said.

Roughly 15 people came to New Mt. Zion Church for the conference.

However, Crump promised there will be more opportunity to show support for the Carter case as they plan on bringing more attention to it.

Carter's mother Teresa said she hopes more attention will bring her closure.

"I don't know what happened, but God knows," Carter said. "I'm just hoping that somebody saw something, heard something...and just come forward to help me and my family be at peace and we can get justice."

"We're very hopeful that, as Mr. Coleman said, more people coming out to say that this is not just about the Carter family, this is about the community," Crump said.

Though Crump said the Justice Department is investigating JPD, Region 8 News reached out to Jonesboro Police Chief Rick Elliott who said, "We have not been contacted by the Justice Department by letter or phone or any other manner of communication about any investigation regarding our procedures and policies."

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