An autopsy of Michael Brown showed that one of the gunshots that struck the teenager in the head went from “back to front,” indicating that he was surrendering at the time of his death, attorneys for Brown’s family said Monday. But the experts who conducted the autopsy said it was unclear so far whether any of the gunshot wounds were incurred while Brown was raising his arms to surrender.
In addition, the results of this autopsy show that Brown was struck by six bullets, said Michael Baden, a medical examiner who carried out the autopsy, which was requested by the family.
The autopsy conducted by Baden — who reviewed the autopsies of President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. — is one of three autopsies that will be carried out. But this is the first information from a medical examination of Brown’s body to be publicly released since Brown was fatally shot, providing details that residents in Ferguson and many in the public have asked for since he was killed.
One of the gunshots struck Brown at the apex of his head, while another struck just above his right eyebrow, according to Shawn Parcells, identified by the Brown family’s attorneys as a forensic pathologist assistant.
But multiple wounds on Brown’s body appeared to be reentry wounds. Parcells said that a shot that struck Brown in the forehead, above the right eyebrow, exited through the bottom right portion of Brown’s jawline and reentered his body.
Parcells said it is unclear yet whether the gunshots on Brown’s arms came from the teenager holding his arms up in a form of surrender, which is what a witness said Brown was doing when he died.
While they could not speculate on the order of the gunshot wounds, it appears that the two gunshots fired at Brown’s head were the last two shots, Parcells said.
State medical examiners conducted an autopsy the day after Brown was killed, St. Louis County police chief Jon Belmar said last week. And a third autopsy will be performed by a federal medical examiner at the order of Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., owing to both a request from Brown’s family and “the extraordinary circumstances involved in this case,” spokesman Brian Fallon said Sunday.
The FBI is conducting its own civil rights investigation as well as monitoring the investigation carried out by county authorities.
Crump stressed that this information is a preliminary report that answers questions including how many times Brown was shot, a key detail that remained unconfirmed for more than a week after Brown’s death.
“The Brown family wanted to have this autopsy performed on their behalf because they did not know whether the federal officials were going to conduct their own independent autopsy,” Crump said. “And they did not want to be left having to rely on the autopsy done by the St. Louis law enforcement agencies, the same individuals they feel are responsible for executing their son in broad daylight.”
However, it appears that different medical examinations had access to different information. For example, the autopsy conducted by Baden was first reported Sunday night by the New York Times. The Times reported that Baden did not have access to the clothes Brown was wearing at the time of his death.
— The New York Times (@nytimes) August 18, 2014
While this autopsy confirms some information that witnesses have given, it also appears to contradict other details. Baden told the Times that it appeared that all of the bullets hit the front part of Brown’s body, while Dorian Johnson — an eyewitness to the shooting — said through an attorney that Brown was shot in the back.
On Monday, Parcells said that it while it appeared that one of the bullets could have Brown while the teenager was surrendering, it was not definitively clear.
Meanwhile, Baden said he could not say how different his results were from the autopsy conducted by the county, because the county had not released its results. However, he expected that the results would be similar.
This report has been updated.