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Wednesday, June 19, 2024 | Back issues
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Michael Brown Autopsy|Backs Officer’s Story

FERGUSON, Mo. (CN) - Michael Brown was shot in the hand at close range, according to the official autopsy, and had marijuana in his system, according to an accompanying toxicology report.

Brown, unarmed, 18 and black, was gunned down by white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9.

Reports that Brown was shot after throwing up his hands have sparked daily protests against police brutality and racial profiling.

Wilson claims he fired his weapon after Brown physically confronted him.

A grand jury is weighing evidence on whether to charge Wilson criminally.

The reports, prepared by the St. Louis County Medical Examiner and obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, provide the most detailed information to date regarding Brown's injuries.

Dr. Michael Graham, a St. Louis medical examiner who is not part of the official investigation, reviewed the autopsy report for the Post-Dispatch. He told the newspaper that it "does support that there was a significant altercation at the car," which supports Wilson's version of the shooting.

Dr. Judy Melinek, a forensic pathologist in San Francisco, told the Post-Dispatch that 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."

Melinek said the autopsy did not support witnesses who have claimed Brown was shot while running away from Wilson, or with his hands up, according to the Post-Dispatch.

Melinek told the newspaper that the autopsy shows 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; that 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, and the trajectory shows Brown probably was not taking a standard surrender position with arms above the shoulders and palms out when he was hit, according to Melinek.

The autopsy is one of three conducted on Brown and lines up in many ways with the findings of a private autopsy arranged by Brown's family and made public on Aug. 18. A third autopsy by the Department of Justice has not been released.

The toxicology test performed by St. Louis University showed marijuana in Brown's blood and urine.

The Post-Dispatch also published a detailed account of Wilson's version of the shooting.

According to a source, who did not want to be identified because of the ongoing investigation, Wilson spotted Brown and his friend Dorian Johnson walking down the middle of Canfield Drive and asked them to get on the sidewalk.

Here is the story from the unidentified "source," as told to the Post-Dispatch:

As the two men walked by Wilson, Brown cursed him, while holding cigarillos. Wilson thought Johnson's clothing matched the description in a radio alert about a man who had just stolen cigarillos from a nearby market. Wilson radioed for backup, and backed up toward Brown and Johnson.

When the officer tried to get out of the police SUV, Brown slammed its door shut and punched him in the face through the open window. Wilson could not use pepper spray in the car because it would incapacitate him, his baton was at the back of his belt and he had no Taser, so he drew his gun.

According to the source, Brown grabbed the gun, handed off the cigarillos, then hit Wilson again in the face and managed to turn the pistol against the officer.

Wilson backed away from the open window and shot. He thought that Brown's hand on the gun may have caused it to misfire twice. With blood and broken glass all around, the source said, Wilson fired again. Brown ran away.

Wilson said he chased Brown, who stopped and turned, then ran at him.

Wilson said he ordered Brown to stop, then shot him. He said Brown kept running toward Wilson, who fired several more shots. The last shot hit Brown in the head.

Wilson called for an ambulance, then drove himself to the police station and was taken to the hospital by other officers. He had bruises on both sides of his face and scratches on his neck, the source said. He had no broken bones.

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