Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Did Michael Brown Have His 'Hands Up' When Killed by Police? Private Autopsy Can't Say; FERGUSON POLICE SHOOTING

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Did Michael Brown Have His 'Hands Up' When Killed by Police? Private Autopsy Can't Say; FERGUSON POLICE SHOOTING

Article excerpt

FERGUSON * A police officer's bullet that killed Michael Brown here 10 days ago, igniting protests around the country, entered the top of the teen's head as he was bent over or falling down, a private autopsy performed for Michael Brown's family says.

The autopsy couldn't say, however, whether the unarmed teenager was retreating, charging or if he had his hands up when he was killed, a claim that has become a central rallying cry of protesters demanding justice in cities across the United States.

Brown, 18, of Ferguson, was shot at least six times, including twice in the head, according to the autopsy performed by Dr. Michael Baden, a former New York City medical examiner who has investigated numerous high-profile cases. Baden said one bullet, which was likely the fatal shot, entered in the top of Brown's skull. Another hit just above his right eye, exited near the eye, re-entered his face, exited near his jaw and then ended up in Brown's upper chest or shoulder. Brown suffered four other gunshot wounds to his right arm and palm.

The family's autopsy, performed Sunday at Austin A. Layne Mortuary in Jennings, leaves unanswered questions and differs slightly from what few details have been released about the autopsy conducted by St. Louis County's medical examiner, Dr. Mary Case. Her office, so far, has said only that Brown died of gunshots to the head and chest, and would not comment further on Baden's preliminary findings of his belief that only the shot to the top of the head would have been fatal.

It's not clear how far Brown was from Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson when the officer opened fire. Baden found no gunshot residue, which would indicate an extremely close-range shot, on Brown's body. But Baden didn't have access to Brown's clothing, which is still being held by St. Louis County police.

Baden said given what he knows, the shots could have been fired from at least 1 or 2 feet away or much farther.

"It could be 30 feet away," he told reporters Monday.

Baden said he found no injuries that would indicate a struggle with Wilson, 28, of Crestwood, who police say fatally shot Brown about noon Aug. 9 in the Canfield Green apartment complex. Obtaining Wilson's hospital records will be crucial in concluding whether they fought before the shooting.

Baden said Monday that Brown had some abrasions on the right side of his face, which Baden believes were caused by Brown falling to the pavement.

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson has said Wilson suffered facial injuries in a struggle, but police haven't provided a clear picture of how Brown was shot.

Dorian Johnson, 22, may be the closest witness to the shooting. He has told media that he and Brown were walking in the street when the officer pulled up and ordered them to "get the F on the sidewalk" and grabbed Brown by the throat. Johnson disputed a description of the encounter by St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar that Brown had reached into the car and tried to grab Wilson's gun. …

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