|(Photo: Pool photo by Robert Cohen)|
Michael Brown, the unarmed black teen who was killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., in August, was shot in the hand at close range and had marijuana in his system, an autopsy report by the St. Louis County Medical Examiner's Office concludes.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch published the report on its website. Suzanne McCune, administrator for the county medical examiner, acknowledged the accuracy of the report, but said the office did not release it to the newspaper.
The county report in some ways differs from the autopsy conducted at the request of Brown's family, which concluded the shots were fired from at least a foot away and as far as 30 feet away. Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Brown's family, said Wednesday that he and the Brown family don't trust the autopsy report.
The county report says a preliminary investigation indicates Brown became "belligerent" with officer Darren Wilson after Wilson asked him to stop walking in the street. The report says Wilson attempted to get out of his patrol car and that Brown, 18, pushed the door shut "and began to struggle with Officer Wilson."
The report says the gun went off during the struggle and that Brown fled. Wilson gave chase, the report said, and opened fire when Brown turned and started running back toward the officer.
Brown's family says the officer attempted to pull Brown into the patrol car and that the teen was killed when, after fleeing, he turned around and raised his hands to surrender.
Michael Graham, who is medical examiner for the city of St. Louis and is not part of the official investigation, reviewed the autopsy report and said it "does support that there was a significant altercation at the car."
The county autopsy report indicates a shot traveled from the tip of Brown's right thumb toward his wrist. The report says there is no stipple — powder burns around a wound from a gunshot at close range. But Graham told the newspaper that stipple does not always appear "when it's really close, such as within an inch or so."
The county report does indicate that the thumb wound contained "foreign particulate matter ... consistent with products that are discharged from the barrel of a firearm."
Judy Melinek, a forensic pathologist in San Francisco, told the newspaper the autopsy indicates Brown was "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."
Crump said the leak of the report probably was meant to distract the public from asking why Wilson shot Brown as he was running away.
"We don't know if any of this is accurate because this is the St. Louis Medical Examiner who works with the prosecutor and the police every day," Crump said. "We haven't had a chance to vet what they have looked at and what they have reviewed. So the family definitely questions everything that the St. Louis Medical Examiner is saying and what they have done."
Pathologist Michael Baden, who conducted the autopsy requested by the family, has concluded that bullet wounds to Brown's arms could have been sustained by putting his hands up or crossing his arms