As Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon called in the National Guard following another night of angry protests in Ferguson, one of the nation’s most well-respected forensic pathologists released the results of his private autopsy on Michael Brown, describing the brutal manner in which the teen died after six shots entered his body—including two in his head.
Dr. Michael M. Baden, 80, former chief medical examiner in New York City, was hired by the Brown family to conduct the autopsy, which took four hours to complete, according to an exclusive report in the New York Times.
Baden told the Times that one of the bullets fired by police officer Darren Wilson entered the top of the teenager’s skull, which suggested to the doctor that Brown’s head was bent forward when it struck him and caused a fatal injury.
Brown was also shot four times in the right arm and another bullet shattered his right eye, traveled through his face, exited his jaw and re-entered his collarbone. The Times quoted the doctor as saying the last two shots in the head would have stopped him in his tracks and were probably the last fired.
“This one here looks like his head was bent downward,” Baden, who retired in 2011, told the Times, pointing to the drawing of the wound at the top of Brown’s head. “It can be because he’s giving up, or because he’s charging forward at the officer.”
All the bullets were fired into his front, according to Baden, who flew to Missouri on Sunday at the family’s request to conduct the separate autopsy. While the autopsy did not reveal any gunpowder on his body, suggesting Wilson did not shoot the teen from close range, the doctor conceded that this determination could change if there is gunshot residue on Brown’s clothing. Baden did not have access to Brown’s clothes.
As Baden was doing his work, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said yesterday that the Justice Department would do its own autopsy. With the Baden autopsy and the one performed by local authorities, that would make three conducted on the teen.
“People have been asking: How many times was he shot? This information could have been released on Day 1,” Baden told the Times 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.”
“We need more information; for example, the police should be examining the automobile to see if there is gunshot residue in the police car,” said Baden, who during his career has conducted more than 20,000 autopsies and also reviewed the autopsies of both President John F. Kennedy and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Baden, who told the Times he waived his $10,000 fee because of the attention on the case, was assisted by professor Shawn L. Parcells, a pathologist assistant based in Kansas.
“You do this for the families,” Parcells said.
After the autopsy was performed, Benjamin Crump, lawyer for the Brown family who paid Baden’s travel expenses, said, “The sheer number of bullets and the way they were scattered all over his body showed this police officer had a brazen disregard for the very people he was supposed to protect in that community. We want to make sure people understand what this case is about: This case is about a police officer executing a young unarmed man in broad daylight.”
While he pointed out that it wasn’t his job to assign any guilt or blame, Baden did say, “In my capacity as the forensic examiner for the New York State Police, I would say, ‘You’re not supposed to shoot so many times. Right now there is too little information to forensically reconstruct the shooting.”