A preliminary autopsy of young Michael Brown fatally shot by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson has been released to the public, showing the police shot the unarmed youth in the head twice and “at least" four other times, escalated civilian rebellion Sunday night along with federal orders for another autopsy, and National Guard deployment. Evidence-based tactics for de-escalating violence have not been employed.
High-profile doctor performs Michael Brown preliminary autopsy
“People have been asking: How many times was he shot? This information could have been released on Day 1,” Dr. Michael M. Baden said in an interview after performing the autopsy. “They don’t do that, even as feelings built up among the citizenry that there was a cover-up. We are hoping to alleviate that.”
Dr. Baden, 80, is a well-known New York-based medical examiner, one of only about 400 board-certified forensic pathologists in the nation. He reviewed the autopsies of President John F. Kennedy and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. He has performed over 20,000 autopsies.
The “extraordinary circumstances” surrounding the fatal shooting by police officer Darren Wilson of Michael Brown, 18, and a request by Brown’s family members prompted the order for a federal autopsy, Department of Justice spokesman Brian Fallon said in a statement Monday.
According to Dr. Baden's preliminary autopsy report, one bullet entered the top of Brown’s skull, suggesting his head was bent forward when it struck him, causing a fatal injury.
Baden, former chief medical examiner for the City of New York flew to Missouri on Sunday at the family’s request to conduct the separate autopsy.
According to Dr. Baden, the shot at the head was likely the last of bullets to hit him that killed him.
Brown was also shot four times in the right arm, he said.
All the bullets were fired into his front, Dr. Baden explained, and some of the bullets entered and exited several times, including one that left at least five different wounds.
Dr. Baden has not had access to: 1) X-rays showing where bullets were found, that would clarify the autopsy results; 2) witness and police statements; or 3) Brown's clothing.
Police did not allow Dr. Baden access to Brown’s clothing. Without those, Baden could only make a preliminary report regarding the distance at which the shooting occurred. He said it appeared as though the shots were not fired at short range. That part of the report could change, however, if and when he is allowed access to the clothing and finds gun powder residue.
“The preliminary autopsy results are the first time that some of the critical information resulting in Mr. Brown’s death has been made public. Thousands of protesters demanding information and justice for what was widely viewed as a reckless shooting took to the streets here in rallies that ranged from peaceful to violent.” (NY Times)
The protests did not begin, however, until last Sunday after police publicly blamed unarmed Brown for his death.
“We need more information," Dr. Baden stated. "For example, the police should be examining the automobile to see if there is gunshot residue in the police car.”
Tensions over the fatal shooting and authorities' management of the case have led to an entire week of violent unrest in the suburban St. Louis community.
Overt Martial Law declared in Ferguson
Saturday, a midnight to 5:00 a.m. curfew in Ferguson was ordered. By early Monday morning, however, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon ordered the National Guard into Ferguson after militarized police and civilian violence escalated after a large but peaceful civil rights march.
Human rights and civil rights critics have said the militarized police are out-of-control. Earlier in the week, police shot tear gas at and arrested reporters.
Police again turned on journalists in Ferguson on Sunday night, detaining three more reporters and threatening to shoot and mace others, some at gunpoint. Police threatened to shoot Mustafa Hussein, a reporter who was filming for local Argus Radio.
"Get the fuck out of here! You get that light off or you're getting shot with this!" the police shouted.
Some eyewitnesses said the officer told Hussein he would be "shelled." The threat was captured on a livestream and was tweeted widely.
Keshonda James, 35, was driving away from police when police shot a tear gas canister toward her that shattered her windshield. The exploding glass hit her left arm, later bandaged by a fellow protester.
“Glass exploded everywhere," James said. "This isn’t cool. I’m not down here looting.”
Bryan Jones, 23 ran from the heavily armed police. He said afterwards that he felt safer running toward the sound of gunshots than fleeing back toward police.
Jones said he has been harassed by police his entire life, according to USA Today.
“It’s horrible that I feel like I’m better off running away from the tear gas and running toward the people that are busting at the cops,” Jones said.
The National Guard will “help restore peace and order and to protect the citizens of Ferguson,” the statement said.
Sunday, a planned, large peaceful civil rights march was held.
“Tonight, a day of hope, prayers, and peaceful protests was marred by the violent criminal acts of an organized and growing number of individuals, many from outside the community and state, whose actions are putting the residents and businesses of Ferguson at risk,” the statement said. “These violent acts are a disservice to the family of Michael Brown and his memory, and to the people of this community who yearn for justice to be served, and to feel safe in their own homes.”
Late Sunday, over two hours before a second midnight to 5:00 A.M. curfew was to begin, police fired tear gas at hundreds of angry protesters marching down the town’s main thoroughfare toward a police command center.
“Based on the conditions, I had no alternative but to elevate the level of our response,” said Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol, who is in command in Ferguson. “We had to act to protect lives and property.”
At least two people were injured Sunday. One was shot, according to Johnson. Seven or eight people were arrested and will be charged with failure to obey orders to disperse, police said.
- The police captain said the following incidents had occurred Sunday night and early Monday describing specific scenes from the night:
- At 8:25 p.m. local time, a person was shot on West Florissant, the street where protesting has centered.
- At 8:26 p.m. shots were fired at a nearby location.
- At 8:27 p.m. police learned that a “subject was down.”
- At 8:28 p.m. police received a report of eight people with guns and tactical teams responded.
- By 8:56 p.m. hundreds of protests marched toward the shopping center where police have their command post. In response, police officers lobbed tear gas at the group and asked other local police departments for assistance.
- At 9:20 p.m. Johnson said McDonald’s employees were forced to lock themselves in a storage room after being “overrun” by protesters.
Officials have employed no evidence-based peaceful methods readily available for conflict de-escalation.
According to Mr. Drew Guest in a 2008 article Martial Arts Magazine, if your goal is to de-escalate, then do not "TACOS":
1. Threaten the aggressor
2. Argue or contradict the aggressor
3. Challenge the aggressor
4. Order or command the aggressor
5. Shame or disrespect the aggressor
Instead of employing the above or similar tactics, the Pentagon-militarized police stepped into the crisis, escalating racial tension nationwide, as well as violence and bloodshed in Ferguson.
Related Articles by Deborah Dupré