Michael Brown, the 19-year-old Ferguson, Missouri teen who was unarmed when Officer Darren Wilson gunned him down on August 9, was shot in the hand at close range, according to the official autopsy prepared by the St. Louis County medical examiner’s officer and obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Brown’s skin was also found on the outside driver’s door of Wilson’s patrol car.
“Someone got an injury that tore off skin and left it on the car,” said St. Louis medical examiner, Dr. Michael Graham, who is not part of the official investigation. “That fits with everything else that came out. There’s blood in the car, now skin on the car, that shows something happened right there.”
It has been previously acknowledged that an altercation of some kind occurred near or in Officer Wilson’s vehicle, but the details have always been in dispute. Wilson said Brown reached inside the vehicle for his weapon; Brown’s friend, Dorian Johnson, said Wilson grabbed Brown by the neck and the teen struggled to get away before being shot.
This autopsy does very little to shed further light on the incident that led to Brown’s killing, though two experts opine that the location of the wound could possibly support Wilson’s claim that the slain teen reached for the officer’s weapon.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports:
Graham said the examination indicated a shot traveled from the tip of Brown’s right thumb toward his wrist. The official report notes an absence of stippling, powder burns around a wound that indicate a shot fired at relatively short range.
But Graham said, “Sometimes when it’s really close, such as within an inch or so, there is no stipple, just smoke.”
The report on a supplemental microscopic exam of tissue from the thumb wound showed foreign matter “consistent with products that are discharged from the barrel of a firearm.”
Dr. Judy Melinek, a forensic pathologist in San Francisco, said the autopsy “supports the fact that this guy is reaching for the gun, if he has gunpowder particulate material in the wound.” She added, “If he has his hand near the gun when it goes off, he’s going for the officer’s gun.”
Sources also claim that Brown’s blood was found on Wilson’s gun.
Though “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!” has become the rallying cry for protesters demanding justice for Brown, Melinek claims that the autopsy does not support that Brown was in a position of surrender when he was shot, despite various, unrelated witnesses stating to the contrary.
[Melinek] said Brown was facing Wilson when Brown took a shot to the forehead, two shots to the chest and a shot to the upper right arm. The wound to the top of Brown’s head would indicate he was falling forward or in a lunging position toward the shooter; the shot was instantly fatal.
A sixth shot that hit the forearm traveled from the back of the arm to the inner arm, which means Brown’s palms could not have been facing Wilson, as some witnesses have said, Melinek said. That trajectory shows Brown probably was not taking a standard surrender position with arms above the shoulders and palms out when he was hit, she said.
The official autopsy seems to veer substantially away from the preliminary autopsy.
As previously reported by NewsOne, in a diagram of the entry wounds, Dr. Michael M. Baden, the former chief medical examiner for the City of New York, noted that the six shots produced numerous wounds with some of the bullets entering and exiting several times, including one that left at least five different wounds.
According to Baden, who conducted the autopsy in August, Brown was shot four times in the right arm, with all bullets fired into his front.
Read more on the official autopsy at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.