A retired medical examiner from New York City announced on Monday the findings of an independent autopsy he conducted on slain teen Mike Brown, saying the victim was shot at least six times and showed no signs of physical struggle.
While Michael Baden’s findings contradicted some aspects of eyewitness accounts, it corroborated others, and Mr. Brown’s parents and their legal representatives argued that the autopsy provided more than enough evidence to arrest officer Darren Wilson for Brown’s murder.
“It verifies the worst that the family thinks happened – that he was executed,” Benjamin Crump, the parents’ chief lawyer, told USA Today. “It confirms what the witnesses said, that this was an execution. That’s what the witnesses said from Day 1.”
Dr. Baden, who was commissioned by the Brown family to conduct the autopsy, said the final gunshot indicated the victim was either facing downward or charging Mr. Wilson. He also said that Brown’s death was probably relatively painless and that he probably could have survived the first five bullet wounds.
Another key finding – or lack thereof – was the absence of gunshot residue on Brown’s body, which indicated that the victim was at least one foot away from Wilson’s weapon every time it was fired. Baden said at the Monday press conference that he’d need to examine Brown’s clothes, which were unavailable, to make a more conclusive determination regarding the absence of the residue.
If confirmed, that finding would help back up accounts that Brown was some distance from Wilson when he was fired upon – and help disprove police accounts that the first shot was fired while Brown tried to snatch Wilson’s gun.
Some of the findings of the autopsy seemed to complicate witness accounts, however.
Namely, Baden found that no bullets had entered Brown from behind – a determination seemingly contradicting witness accounts that Wilson shot Brown in the back before the shooting victim turned around and faced more gunfire head on.
Baden’s finding that Brown's body showed no signs of a physical struggle also added potential caveats to both police and witness claims. Both sides say Wilson and Brown tussled through an open police car window before the shooting, though the two sides have disagreed on who was the initial aggressor.
The retired examiner also emphasized that he would need a toxicology report to comment on a claim, made by a police source quoted in The Washington Post on Monday, that the county police's autopsy found marijuana in Brown's system.
Brown’s parents – echoing a common refrain made by protesters in Ferguson, Mo., in recent days – said the evidence put forth by Baden should be enough to put Wilson behind bars.
“What else do they need to arrest the killer of my child?” Mr. Crump said at the press conference on Monday, quoting Brown’s mother, Lesley McFadden.
This recent autopsy follows an examination conducted by county police shortly after the shooting incident. The results of that examination will not be released until toxicology tests are returned, local authorities have said.
The independent autopsy was performed at the behest of Ms. McFadden, who didn’t trust local authorities in the matter, attorneys for Brown’s parents said.
On Sunday, US Attorney General Eric Holder said the federal government would be conducting a third autopsy of its own, citing the “extraordinary circumstances” surrounding the shooting.
• This includes material from Reuters and The Associated Press.