Official documents on slain 18-year-old Michael Brown have reportedly revealed that he was shot in the hand at close range and had marijuana in his system when he was killed by a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer.
The official autopsy report and accompanying toxicology report were prepared by the St. Louis County medical examiner and obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The newspaper reports that these findings, conducted by two experts not directly involved in the case, provide the most detailed description to date of the wounds Brown sustained on Aug. 9.
Officer Darren Wilson told investigators that Brown reached for the officer’s gun inside his patrol vehicle, so he fired two shots, hitting Brown once in the right hand and firing additional shots that killed the teen. The official autopsy said Brown’s tissue was found on the exterior of the driver’s side of Wilson’s vehicle.
The St. Louis medical examiner, Dr. Michael Graham, who is not involved in the case, reviewed the autopsy report for the Post-Dispatch, concluding that it “does support that there was a significant altercation at the car.”
“Someone got an injury that tore off skin and left it on the car,” he said. “That fits with everything else that came out. There’s blood in the car, now skin on the car, that shows something happened right there.”
An examination of tissue from Brown’s hand wound showed foreign matter “consistent with products that are discharged from the barrel of a firearm,” the Post-Dispatch reported.
Sources also told the Post-Dispatch that Brown’s blood had been found on Wilson’s gun.
Dr. Judy Melinek, a forensic pathologist in San Francisco, said the autopsy “supports the fact that this guy is reaching for the gun, if he has gunpowder particulate material in the wound.”
“If he has his hand near the gun when it goes off, he’s going for the officer’s gun,” she told the paper, adding that the autopsy did not support witnesses’ accounts that Brown was running away or had his hands up when he was shot.
Dr. Melinek said Brown was facing Officer Wilson when he was shot once in the forehead, twice in the chest and once in the upper right arm.
“The wound to the top of Brown’s head would indicate he was falling forward or in a lunging position toward the shooter; the shot was instantly fatal,” the Post-Dispatch reported.
A sixth shot that hit the forearm traveled from the back of the arm to the inner arm, which means Brown’s palms could not have been facing Officer Wilson, Dr. Melinek told the paper.
A toxicology report, performed by a St. Louis University laboratory, detected THC in Brown’s system at the time of the shooting. Ohio State University College of Pharmacy consultant Alfred Staubus said it is unclear, however, if Brown was impaired at the time, the Post-Dispatch reported.