While family members called for a police officer to be arrested, a forensic pathologist who conducted a private autopsy on slain teenager Michael Brown was cautious not to draw too many conclusions at a press conference Monday morning.
Dr. Michael Baden said Brown was struck by six bullets.
The “kill shot” entered the top of Brown’s head, angled slightly downward and from behind, and stayed lodged in the brain, he said.
Baden addressed the media in St. Louis Monday after another night of rioting and looting in Ferguson, Missouri.
But shortly after the morning press conference hosted by the Brown family, St. Louis County Medical Examiner Mary Casey told the Washington Post that her report will conclude that Brown was shot six to eight times. She declined to speak further but the Post cited another source “familiar with the county’s investigation” who said Brown was shot from the front and had marijuana in his system at the time of the incident on Aug. 9.
Family members have insisted that if Brown’s toxicology report is released to the public then the officer who shot him, Darren Wilson, should also be tested and have the results made public.
The family’s autopsy is one of three being conducted on Brown’s body, with the county and the Justice Department also working on their own autopsy reports.
Baden said there was no sign of a physical struggle on Brown’s body. But he said the officer’s injuries would also have to be considered before any conclusions are drawn, as would the clothing worn by both Brown and officer Wilson. X-rays also need to be evaluated and Baden’s team has not had access to those.
“We can’t make any definite judgments,” he said, until all the evidence is examined.
He said there was an abrasion on Brown’s face, but “that would be consistent with someone falling to the ground after a gunshot wound.”
“Right now from the science point of view we can’t determine which witness’s (account) is most consistent with all of the forensic findings,” Baden said.
The pathologist also said he could not speculate on the order of the gunshot wounds. But the two wounds to the head indicate Brown was bending over and those were likely to have been the last two shots Wilson fired at him. Wilson hit him with multiple other shots, including to his chest, right side of his neck, jaw and right arm.
“All of these gunshot wounds were survivable except for the one on top of the head,” Baden said. ” It went from the middle of the brain to the right side of the brain.”
He said this type of wound would have immediately made Brown lose consciousness.
“Why, given what’s been said here, has Mr. (Wilson) not been arrested?” one woman shouted out at the end of the press conference.
“Who gets arrested is a political decision as you know, not a forensic science decision,” Baden said, before walking off the podium. No representatives of law enforcement spoke at the press conference.
Baden said the theory that Brown was “running away” from the officer was “not consistent” with what he found and that this scenario seemed “unlikely.”
The family’s attorney, Daryl Parks, said it was important in this highly volatile case that the facts get out to the public sooner rather than later.
“In a situation like this facts become very important, the evidence becomes very important,” Parks said. “This case has suffered from a lack of transparency.”
Parks focused on the direction the bullets appeared to be coming from, which appeared to be “coming from back to front.”
“That’s very important because it shows a back to front bullet hole,” Parks said. “And it supports the eye-witness accounts. We believe that given those kinds of facts that officer ought to be arrested. Those facts speak for themselves. Why would he be shot, a man 6-foot-4, at the top of his head? Those (shots) alone are ample evidence for this officer to be arrested.”
Gov. Jay Nixon called out the National Guard to quell the violence which a spokesman for the State Police said was being instigated by “outsiders.”
State Police spokesman Cpl. Justin Wheetley told KMOV in St. Louis that the peaceful protests are encouraging, but the violent protests are being stirred up by influences from outside of Ferguson.
“It is the few, the aggressors that are taking this situation, this event and trying to escalate that in their favor to bring destruction to the community. It is mostly outsiders who are coming in and destroying this peaceful community,” he said.