adapted from the New York Times with snippets from other online articles. The editorial comments, of course, are mine.
“One of the bullets entered the top of Mr. Brown’s skull, suggesting his head was bent forward when it struck him and caused a fatal injury, according to Dr. Michael M. Baden, the former chief medical examiner for the City of New York, who flew to Missouri on Sunday at the family’s request to conduct the separate autopsy. It was likely the last of bullets to hit him, he said.
“Mr. Brown, 18, was also shot four times in the right arm, he said, adding that all the bullets were fired into his front. In light of recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, many are seeking ways to safeguard their community against police brutality. Sadly, there are members of law enforcement who abuse their power and use excessive force. I have seen countless cases involving police brutality, but as a whole, most officers do not take advantage of their position.
However, officers who do are typically habitual offenders. The number one solution is to demand that all law enforcement wear body cameras when on duty. Studies show that when encounters with the public are recorded, incidents of police brutality become almost non-existent. In Rialto, California, a year-long study showed an 88 percent decrease in complaints filed since their police force instituted body cameras.
Just this week, in response to recent cases of brutality and an opinion from a Federal Court case suggesting this as a solution to Fourth Amendment violations as well, NYC officials proposed all law enforcement wear body cameras in the never-ending quest to keep government bodies, at all levels, accountable to the people. As Supreme Court Justice Brandeis said, ‘sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants’ in 1913…”
“Law enforcement and prosecutors alike should be banging down the doors of City Hall demanding funding for this valuable tool. Imagine
how effective a prosecution could be with the judge, jury, and Defendant seeing firsthand the actions that led to a stop and arrest.
But why isn’t this being done? The only answer is that both are fully aware body cameras would end the practice of effectuating arrests
using illegal tactics. Using cameras would mean no more Fourth Amendment violations swept under the rug, no more falsifying alleged
statements, no more exaggeration of alleged actions by the Defendant, and no more downplaying the use of force [being] used to make the
“If we want communities to trust those who are there to protect and serve, then there needs to be transparency in everything that they do.
Incidents like the one that occurred in Ferguson would no longer occur at the alarming rate they are now; and if things do happen, there
would be no question whatsoever about who did what. Officers should welcome this technology as a tool in combating false claims of police brutality or in instances of officer-involved shootings.”
“In the long run, body cameras will create a stronger support of law enforcement within the communities they police and be a cost-effective tool for the prosecution of crimes. As a nation, we should demand that all law enforcement be required to wear body cameras and that all law enforcement vehicles be equipped as well. Once we develop this kind of transparency, we can rebuild trust in those sworn to protect and serve and begin to have a true system of Justice that holds everyone involved responsible, no matter which side of the aisle they sit on.”
In Reno, NHP uses such cameras, but in Las Vegas, they do not.
The preliminary results from that first autopsy offered the public, for the first time, some of the critical information surrounding Michael Brown’s death.
“Thousands of protesters demanding information and justice for what was widely viewed as a reckless shooting took to the streets [in
Ferguson] in rallies that ranged from peaceful to violent.”
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Sunday that the Justice Department would conduct its own autopsy, in addition to the ones
performed by local officials and [the private one] because of, a department spokesman said, “the extraordinary circumstances involved
in this case and at the request of the Brown family.”
Michael Brown died Aug. 9 in a confrontation with a police officer [in Ferguson] in the suburb of St. Louis.
“The police department has come under harsh criticism for refusing to clarify the circumstances of the shooting and for responding to
protests with military-style operational gear.”
“People have been asking: How many times was he shot? This information could have been released on Day 1,” Dr. 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 said that while Mr. Brown was shot at least six times, only three bullets were recovered from his body. But he has not yet seen
the X-rays showing where the bullets were found, which would clarify the autopsy results. Nor has he had access to witness and police
Dr. Baden provided a diagram of the entry wounds, and noted that the six shots produced numerous wounds. Some of the bullets entered and exited several times, including one that left at least five different wounds. “This one here looks like his head was bent downward,” [Dr.
Baden] said, indicating the wound at the very top of Mr. Brown’s head.
“It can be because he’s giving up, or because he’s charging forward at the officer.”
He stressed that his information does not assign blame or justify the shooting (this surely does not seem helpful to the police department).
“We need more information; for example, the police should be examining the automobile to see if there is gunshot residue in the police car,” [Dr. Baden] said.
Dr. Baden, 80, is a well-known New York-based medical examiner, who is one of only about 400 board-certified forensic pathologists in the nation. He reviewed the autopsies of both President John F. Kennedy and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and has performed more than 20,000 autopsies himself.
Dr. Baden said he consulted with the St. Louis County medical examiner before conducting the autopsy. One of the bullets shattered Mr.
Brown’s right eye, traveled through his face, exited his jaw and re-entered his collarbone. The last two shots in the head would have
stopped him in his tracks and were likely the last fired.
“Mr. Brown,” he said, “would not have survived the shooting even if he had been taken to a hospital right away.” The autopsy indicated that he was otherwise healthy. No matter what conclusions can be drawn from Dr. Baden’s work, Mr. Brown’s death remains marked by shifting and contradictory accounts more than a week after it occurred. The
shooting is under investigation by St. Louis County and by the F.B.I., working with the Justice Department’s civil rights division and the
office of Attorney General Holder.
According to what has emerged so far, on Saturday, Aug. 9, Mr. Brown, along with a companion, Dorian Johnson, was walking in the middle of Canfield Drive, a fistful of cigarillos in Mr. Brown’s hand, police say, which a videotape shows he stole from a liquor store on West Florissant Ave.
The police have said that what happened next was a physical struggle between Mr. Brown and Officer Wilson that left the officer with a
swollen face. Mr. Johnson and others have said that it was a case of racial profiling and police aggression from a white officer toward a
black man. Within minutes, Mr. Brown, who was unarmed, was dead of gunshot wounds.
The sequence of events provided by law enforcement officials places Mr. Brown and Mr. Johnson at Ferguson Market and Liquors, a store
several blocks away on West Florissant Ave., at about 11:50 a.m. After leaving the store with the cigarillos, the two walked north on West
Florissant, a busy commercial thoroughfare, toward Canfield Drive, a clerk reported to the police. The police tell of an officer who was
enforcing the minor violation of jaywalking, as Mr. Brown and Mr. Johnson ignored the sidewalk and strolled down the middle of the road
instead. (Another heinous crime!)
The morning after the shooting, Chief Jon Belmar of the St. Louis County police said that Officer Wilson was leaving his police car when
Mr. Brown “allegedly pushed the police officer back into the car,” where he “physically assaulted the police officer.” “Within the police
car there was a struggle over the officer’s weapon,” Chief Belmar
said. “There was at least one shot fired in the car.” At that point, the police said, Officer Wilson left his vehicle and fatally shot Mr.
Brown. “More than a few” shell casings were recovered from the scene (I find this hard to believe.).
Mr. Johnson, who was with Brown that night and who has declined to be interviewed, has described the events differently in television
interviews. While he and Mr. Brown walked, he said, Officer Wilson stopped his vehicle and told them to get on the sidewalk. When they
refused, Officer Wilson slammed on his brakes and drove in reverse to get closer.
When the officer opened his door, it hit Mr. Brown. With his left hand, Officer Wilson reached out and grabbed Mr. Brown by the neck,
Mr. Johnson said. “It’s like tug-of-war,” Mr. Johnson said. “He’s trying to pull him in. He’s pulling away, that’s when I heard, ‘I’m
gonna shoot you.’ ”
A witness, Tiffany Mitchell, said that she heard tires squeal, then saw Mr. Brown and Officer Wilson “wrestling” through the open car
window. A shot went off from within the car, Mr. Johnson said, and the
two began to run away from the officer.
Mr. Johnson said that he hid behind a parked car and that Mr. Brown was struck by a bullet in his back as he ran away, an account that Dr.
Baden’s autopsy appears to contradict. “Michael’s body jerks as if he was hit,” Ms. Mitchell said, “and then he put his hands up.” Mr. Brown turned, Mr. Johnson said, raised his hands, and said, “I don’t have a
gun, stop shooting!”
Officer Wilson continued to fire and Mr. Brown crumpled to the ground, Mr. Johnson said. Within seconds, confusion and horror swept through Canfield Drive. On that Saturday afternoon, dozens of neighbors were at home and rushed out of their apartments when they heard gunshots.
One person who claimed to witness the shooting began posting frantic messages on Twitter. A 10-minute video posted on YouTube appeared to be taken on a cellphone by someone who identified himself as a neighbor.
The video, which has collected more than 225,000 views, captures Mr. Brown’s body, the yellow police tape that marked off the crime scene and the residents standing behind it.
“At one point, a woman can be heard shouting, “Where is the ambulance? Where is the ambulance?” The man taking the video, who remained off-camera, said, “God rest his soul. He’s gone.” Overkill? It sure sounds like that to me!
* * * * *
Mace J. Yampolsky is a Board Certified Criminal Law Specialist, 625 South Sixth St., Las Vegas, NV 89101; He can be reached at: Phone
702-385-9777 or fax 702-385-300. His website is located at: www.macelaw.com.