WASHINGTON, August 17, 2014 — Information from an autopsy report on Michael Brown has been released by The New York Times. These preliminary reports are the first time critical information has been released about the shooting.
According to the report from a private autopsy, Brown was shot at least six times, including twice in the head.
According to Dr. Michael M. Baden, the former chief medical examiner for the City of New York:
- One of the bullets entered the top of Brown’s skull, suggesting his head was bent forward when the bullet struck him and caused a fatal injury. It was likely the last bullet to hit him;
- Brown, 18, was shot four times in the right arm;
- The bullets do not appear to have been shot from close range; no gunpowder was present on Brown’s body (the doctor did not have Brown’s clothing);
- Brown was shot at least six times, but only three bullets were recovered from his body.
Baden has not yet seen the X-rays showing the bullet wounds or where bullets may have been found in the body. He has not had access to witness and police statements that might help him in determing the events of Browns death..
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Sunday that the Justice Department would conduct its own autopsy.
Brown was killed after a confrontation with Police Officer Dennis Wilson. The police department has come under harsh criticism for refusing to clarify the circumstances of the shooting, for not being more prompt in moving the body from the street, and for responding to protests with military-style tactics and gear.
“People have been asking: How many times was he shot? This information could have been released on Day 1,” Dr. Baden said in an interview after performing the autopsy. “They don’t do that, even as feelings built up among the citizenry that there was a cover-up. We are hoping to alleviate that.”
Dr. Baden provided a diagram of the entry wounds, and noted that the six shots produced numerous wounds. Some of the bullets entered and exited more than once, including one that left at least five different wounds.
“This one here looks like his head was bent downward,” he said, indicating the wound at the very top of Mr. Brown’s head. “It can be because he’s giving up, or because he’s charging forward at the officer.”
He stressed that his information does not assign blame or justify the shooting. Baden, who retired from the state police in 2011, said, “Right now there is too little information to forensically reconstruct the shooting.”
“We need more information; for example, the police should be examining the automobile to see if there is gunshot residue in the police car,” he said.
Sequence of Events:
On Saturday, Aug. 9, Michael Brown and Dorian Johnson were walking in the middle of Canfield Drive in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown was holding cigars that, according to a videotape, he stole from a liquor store on West Florissant Ave at about 11:30 a.m.
Brown and Johnson left Ferguson Market and Liquors, a store several blocks away on West Florissant Ave., walking north on West Florissant, a busy commercial thoroughfare, toward Canfield Drive.
At 12:01 p.m., they were stopped by Darren Wilson, a police officer, who ordered them off the road and onto the sidewalk.
The police tell of an officer who was enforcing the minor violation of jaywalking, as Brown and Johnson ignored the sidewalk and strolled down the middle of the road instead.
There was a physical struggle between Brown and Wilson that allegedly left the officer with a swollen face. No images of those injuries have been released.
Protestors say that this was a case of racial profiling and police aggression from a white officer toward a black man.
One report says that Chief Jon Belmar of the St. Louis County police said that Officer Wilson was leaving his police car when Brown “allegedly pushed the police officer back in the car:
“The genesis of this was a physical confrontation,” Jon Belmar, chief of the St. Louis County Police Department, said at a Sunday news conference.
The officer tried to leave his vehicle just before the shooting on Saturday afternoon, but Brown pushed him back into the car, “where he physically assaulted the police officer” and struggled over the officer’s weapon, Belmar said.
Witnesses say Brown was unarmed and had his hands in the air when Wilson shot and killed him, but that account is in dispute.
Accoring to Johnson, he and Brown were walking when Officer Wilson stopped his vehicle and told them to get on the sidewalk. When they refused, Wilson drove in reverse to get close, opening his door which hit Brown.
According to Johnson, Wilson reached out of the car with his left hand and grabbed Brown by the neck. Brown is described as being 6’4″ and 292 pounds, which means that Wilson, who is of medium stature, would have needed to have an extensive reach from inside the car.
“It’s like tug-of-war,” Johnson said. “He’s trying to pull him in. He’s pulling away, that’s when I heard, ‘I’m gonna shoot you.’ ”
Witness Tiffany Mitchell says she heard tires squeal, then saw Brown and Wilson “wrestling” through the open car window. A shot went off from within the car, Johnson said, and the two began to run away from the officer.
According to Mitchell, “The officer gets out of his vehicle,” she said, pursuing Brown, then continued to shoot.
Johnson said that he hid behind a parked car and that Brown was struck by a bullet in his back as he ran away, an account that Dr. Baden’s autopsy appears to contradict. Baden is reporting that the shot to Brown’s head was most likely the fatal wound
“Michael’s body jerks as if he was hit,” Mitchell said in interviews, “and then he put his hands up.” Brown turned, Johnson said, raised his hands, and said, “I don’t have a gun, stop shooting!”
As Dr. Baden is provided additional information, he will be able to more accurately reconstruct the shooting.