The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has obtained and released the official autopsy report of Mike Brown, the black man shot and killed by Police Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, MO this past August.  (The autopsy report is embedded below.)

The item in the report that perhaps sheds the greatest light on the circumstances of the shooting is the evidence that Mike Brown has a gunshot wound to the inside of his right hand near his thumb and palm that appears to be a contact gunshot wound.  This would be consistent with the police narrative that Brown was fighting with Officer Wilson for possession of his service pistol when the shot was fired.

Gunpowder stippling is typically indicative of the distance between the muzzle of a fired gun and the gunshot wound caused by the projectile.  If the shot is fired at close distance (inches to feet) there is typically unburned gunpowder that causes an observable stippling on the victim’s skin.  When the shot is fired from a greater distance (several feet or further) the unburned gunpowder generally does not reach the victim’s skin, and thus there is no stippling.

Somewhat counterintuitively, however, there is another type of gunshot wound in which no stippling is found.  In a contact gunshot wound, in which the muzzle is in contact with the victim’s skin, the unburned gunpowder simply enters the wound along with the projectile.  Because the powder does not contact the skin, there is no skin stippling in a contact gunshot wound.  A contact gunshot wound also typically cause a star-like burst or fragmentation of skin at the site of injury, as the hot gasses propelling the bullet enter and expand within the flesh. The projectile itself, of course, will often fragment skin and bone.

The microscopic examination of Mike Brown’s injured right hand in the autopsy report does, in fact, observe both skin and skeletal fragments consistent with a contact gunshot wound.  Most telling however, is the report’s finding that “foreign particulate matter is present focally within the dermis of some of the skin tissue fragments and within the skeletal muscle tissue fragmentation.  . . . The previously described particles of foreign matter are consistent with products that are discharged from the barrel of a firearm.” (Page 13 of the PDF embedded below.)

Brown’s numerous other gunshot wounds–three to his right arm (upper, middle, and forearm), two to his chest, and three to his head–are also described in a manner consistent with having been fired while Brown was facing Wilson, giving lie to the narrative that Brown was shot in the back as he fled.

Further, the arm injuries are inconsistent with the arms having been raised high in a clear indication of surrender, giving lie to the “hands up, don’t shoot” narrative popularized by protestors.

The autopsy report also repeats the police narrative of the events:

Det. HOKAMP DSN-3476 of the St. Louis County Police Department provided the following preliminary investigative details:  The deceased and another individual were walking down the middle of the Canfield.  Officer D. WILSON DSN-609, of the Ferguson Police Department observed the two individuals, he requested that they get out of the roadway.

The deceased became belligerent towards Officer WILSON.  As Officer WILSON attempted to exit out of his patrol vehicle the deceased pushed the door shut and began to struggle with Officer WILSON, during the struggle the Officers [sic] weapon was un-holstered. The weapon discharged during the struggle.

The deceased then ran down the roadway. Officer WILSON then began to chase the deceased. As he was giving chase to the deceased, the deceased turned around and ran towards Officer WILSON.  Officer WILSON had his service weapon drawn, as the deceased began to run towards him, he discharged his service weapon several times.

As this is preliminary information it was not known in which order or how many time [sic] the officer fired his weapon during the confrontation.

UPDATE: Half-Dozen Black Witnesses Before Grand Jury Confirm Wilson’s Narrative of Shooting

The Washington Post is reporting that at least a half-dozen black witnesses before the Grand Jury have testified consistently with the police narrative of the shooting of Mike Brown:

Seven or eight African American eyewitnesses have provided testimony consistent with Wilson’s account, but none of them have spoken publicly out of fear for their safety, The Washington Post’s sources said.

Not that any of this actual exculpatory evidence even slightly lessens the energy of Brown family attorney Benjamin Crump:

Benjamin L. Crump, a lawyer for the Brown family, said Brown’s family and supporters will not be persuaded by the autopsy report or eyewitness statements that back Wilson’s account of the incident.

“The family has not believed anything the police or this medical examiner has said,” Crump said. “They have their witnesses. We have seven witnesses that we know about that say the opposite.”

Crump also said one of the reasons the family and protesters were opposed to a grand jury proceeding was because it gives authorities too much control over what the public would learn about the case, as evidenced by the leaks.

Of course.  Who needs a grand jury? Just straight to trial with you. Because due process. Of.  Course.

Here’s the PDF of the official autopsy report:

–-Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

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Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense blog (autographed copies available) and (paperback and Kindle). He also holds Law of Self Defense Seminars around the country, and provides free online self-defense law video lectures at the Law of Self Defense Institute and podcasts through iTunes, Stitcher, and elsewhere.


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