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County, family autopsies: Brown show multiple times

By The Associated Press
Published: August 18, 2014 Updated: August 18, 2014 at 02:25 PM
Forensic pathologist Shawn Parcells speaks during a news conference Monday to share preliminary results of a second autopsy done on Michael Brown. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

FERGUSON, Mo. – A St. Louis County autopsy has found that Michael Brown, the unarmed black 18-year-old killed during a confrontation with a white police officer, was shot six to eight times.

County medical examiner’s office administrator Suzanne McCune said the autopsy showed Brown was hit in the head and chest. McCune would not confirm whether Brown was hit elsewhere on his body or discuss other details.

Full findings of the autopsy aren’t expected for about two weeks.

Earlier Monday, attorneys for Brown’s family released details of their own autopsy and said Brown was shot at least six times. That procedure also found that one of the bullets entered the top of Brown’s skull, suggesting his head was bent forward when he suffered the fatal injury.

A pathologist hired by the family who took part in independent autopsy said “we don’t know” if Brown had his hands up or was turned away from the shooter when he was shot.

Brown was shot by a police officer Aug. 9 in Ferguson, touching off a week of rancorous protests in the St. Louis suburb where police have used riot gear and tear gas.

Forensic pathologist Shawn Parcells, who assisted former New York City chief medical examiner Dr. Michael Baden during the independent autopsy, said a bullet graze wound on Brown’s right arm could have occurred in several ways. Brown may have had his back to the shooter, or he could have been facing the shooter with his hands above his head or in a defensive position across his face or chest, Parcells said.

“But we don’t know,” he added.

Witnesses have said Brown had his hands raised above his head when he was repeatedly shot in a street.

Baden said one of the bullets entered the top of Brown’s skull, suggesting his head was bent forward when he suffered that fatal injury. The pathologists said Brown, who also was shot four times in the right arm, could have survived the other bullet wounds.

Brown’s death heightened racial tensions between the predominantly black community and the mostly white Ferguson Police Department, leading to several run-ins between police and protesters.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said Monday he is lifting a curfew while ordering the National Guard to help restore order. Nixon deployed the Guard following a Sunday night clash between armored police and what he called “a violent criminal element intent upon terrorizing the community.”

The neighborhood has been under a midnight-to-5 a.m. curfew the past two days, after Nixon declared a state of emergency. The governor said in a statement that the curfew is now lifted.

He said the Guard will be under the direction of the state highway patrol.

Meantime, a grand jury could begin hearing evidence Wednesday to determine whether the officer, Darren Wilson, should be charged in Brown’s death. Prosecutors are expected to try to start presenting evidence in the regular once-a-week meeting day for the grand jury, though it’s unclear how long it may take, said Ed Magee, spokesman for St. Louis County’s prosecuting attorney.

Family attorney Benjamin Crump said the family wanted the additional autopsy because they feared results of the county’s examination could be biased. Crump declined to release copies of the report to the media, and the county’s autopsy report has not been released.

“They could not trust what was going to be put in the reports about the tragic execution of their child,” he said during Monday’s news conference with Parcells and Baden, who has testified in several high-profile cases, including the O.J. Simpson murder trial.

The second autopsy, Crump said, “verifies that the witness accounts were true: that he was shot multiple times.”

He said Brown’s mother “had the question any mother would have: Was my child in pain. Dr. Baden shared with her in his opinion, he did not suffer.” Crump also noted that Brown had abrasions on his face from where he fell to the ground, but there was “otherwise no evidence of a struggle.”