The attorneys representing the family of Michael Brown, the 18-year-old, unarmed black man shot and killed by a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer on Aug. 9, gathered at a local church Monday morning to reveal the results of an independent autopsy. Flanked by forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden and his colleague, Prof. Shawn Parcells, the attorneys at the press conference said Mike Brown's autopsy "verifies that the witness accounts" about the young man being shot multiple times were true. The findings show Brown was shot at least six times, with two of those bullets entering through his head.
Daryl Parks, serving as assistant counsel for the Brown family, said the "kill shot" was a bullet that hit the apex of Brown's head, went through the middle of his brain, and out through his right eye. "His head was in a downward position" at the time, Parks said. "It had to be."
Parks added that the bullet showed a "back-to-front" direction, which he felt was important to the case. "Why would [Brown] be shot in the very top of his head, a 6-foot-4 man? It makes no sense," Parks said.
Parcells, who assisted Baden with the autopsy, said Brown's other five gunshot wounds were as follows:
- a gunshot that entered just above the right eyebrow, exited through the jawline, and reentered back into the right shoulder
- a gunshot to the top part of the right arm
- a superficial graze wound to the middle part of the right arm
- a gunshot to the medial part (forearm) of the right arm
- a deep graze wound that produced a laceration to the palm of the right hand
According to Baden, all the wounds were survivable except for the gunshot to the top of the head, which immediately impacted the brain. Although it's impossible for forensic scientists to tell the order of gunshot wounds, both medical experts agreed the two gunshots to the head were "most likely" the last shots to occur.
Although Parks said the bullet to the apex of Brown's head revealed a "back-to-front" direction, it's unlikely that any of the gunshots were fired from behind. However, the forensic scientists haven't ruled that out; Parcells said the gunshot to Brown's forearm may have hit him from behind, causing his body "to jerk," or while he was surrendering with his hands up. If either of those examples are true, then it would be consistent with eyewitness testimony.
The medical experts stressed that this was just a preliminary report. More work needs to be done to get a full picture of the Aug. 9 shooting, they said. Baden added that the autopsy found no signs of struggle, but the police officer who killed Brown, Darren Wilson, would need to be examined for verification.
The family of Michael Brown requested the independent autopsy because they do not trust the local government, said Attorney Benjamin Crump, who's serving as lead counsel on the case. "They didn’t want to rely on the autopsy by the St. Louis law enforcement officials — the same officials responsible for executing their son in broad daylight," Crump said.
Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, is calling for the arrest of Darren Wilson, a six-year veteran of the police force. With the independent autopsy, the family would like to gather as much evidence as possible against Wilson. "We know too well if you don’t have your own autopsy, that’s not a good thing," Crump said.
It's not uncommon in these situations to request a second autopsy, Baden added. "The reason for it is that when there isn’t transparency," he said. "The family has the right to know how their loved one died."
St. Louis County performed the first autopsy on Brown, but the findings have yet to be released. Attorney General Eric Holder has ordered a third autopsy, to be carried out by the Department of Justice.
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