The pathologists who conducted a private autopsy on Michael Brown provided little clarity to the question everyone now wants to know: was the 18-year-old shot while surrendering to the police officer who shot him or rushing toward him?
At a Monday morning press conference, Dr. Michael Baden and Prof. Shawn Parcells discussed the results of a private autopsy they were hired to perform on Brown, who was shot by officer Darren Wilson last Saturday.
One bullet hit Brown on the apex of the head, one entered just above the right eyebrow, one hit the top part Brown’s right arm, another was a superficial graze wound to the middle part of the right arm, one hit Brown’s forearm, and another was a deep graze wound on the right palm, the autopsy found.
They say that one of the six bullets that struck Brown in the arm could have hit him while he was running away from Wilson or while he was holding up his arms in a surrender position. But they also left open room that Brown was moving toward Wilson when he was shot.
— The New York Times (@nytimes) August 18, 2014
The distinction will prove important in trying to determine if Wilson shot Brown in self-defense or whether he “executed” him, as many have claimed.
Parcells said that the shot that grazed Brown’s forearm “is consistent” with him being shot from behind as he was running. Parcells also said that it was possible that that particular wound might have come while Brown was putting his hands up in a surrender motion or while in a defensive position.
But in response to a question from a reporter, Baden said that a number of other scenarios were possible.
“They could be consistent with his going forward or going backward,” Baden conceded.
The fatal shot was the one that hit Brown in the apex of the head.
The Brown family has cited witnesses who have said that Brown was shot while he was running away and also while he was crouching down to the ground in order to surrender to Wilson. One witness said that Brown jerked when he was shot from behind.
But other witnesses at the scene who have not been interviewed by the media were overheard on film saying that Brown turned around during the shooting and moved toward Wilson.
Wilson has reportedly maintained that he fired a shot at close range after Brown assaulted him and struggled to gain control of his weapon.
“In this instance there’s no gun shot residues on the skin surface,” said Baden, clarifying that that all of the shots that hit Brown could have been fired from between 1 and 30 feet away.
Brown’s friend who was with him during the shooting, said that Brown was hit by the shot in the car.
While the Brown family ordered the autopsy from Baden on the grounds that they felt that the one conducted by St. Louis County would not be fair, Baden said of the two examinations, “They’re going to be very similar.”
He said that St. Louis County chief medical examiner Mary Case is a “very excellent forensic pathologist.”
The main issue Baden had with the county’s autopsy is that it had yet to be released, something that could have happened “on day 1.”
The Brown family’s attorneys, Benjamin Crump and Daryl Parks, claimed that the autopsy confirmed what the family already knew.
“It verifies that the witness accounts were true,” said Crump.
Crump hit on similar talking points to those he’s been saying since he began representing the family, saying that Brown was “shot in broad daylight” multiple times and was “executed.”
He stressed that the autopsy was preliminary and said that the family now wants to know, “What else do we need to give them to arrest the killer of my child?”
“It supports what the witnesses said, that he was trying to surrender to the officer,” said Parks.
Baden said he was contacted by Crump and his team to conduct the autopsy shortly before the Justice Department announced it would be conducting its own examination.