The summer is almost done, and it has been a particularly hot one as well. Not hot from a temperature stand point, but the tension between law enforcement officials and African American communities from Staten Island, to Los Angeles to Beavercreek, Ohio are at the highest they’ve been in nearly a decade because of four highly publicized incidents involving police that resulted in the deaths of four African American men, all of whom were unarmed. On Monday, the results of an independent autopsy commissioned by the family of Mike Brown, and conducted by Michael Baden, former chief medical examiner of New York City, revealed several startling details of the shooting of his shooting at the hands of Ferguson (MO) Police officer Darren Wilson. The autopsy showed that Brown was shot at least six times, with a bullet entering his body at the apex of his skull being the likely kill shot. Daryl Parks, lawyer for Brown’s family, believes this information corroborates eye witness accounts that Brown was attempting to surrender when he was shot and killed.
The autopsy also revealed several wounds to Brown’s upper arm that appear to be defensive in nature, but Baden did concede that it was difficult to determine whether Brown was facing away from officer Wilson when he was struck in the arm or if he was facing toward the officer, although the bullets did enter Brown's body from the front.
Baden also told the media that it did not appear that Brown was shot at close range, but admitted to not having access to the clothing upon which gun powder residue would have been deposited if he had been fired upon from close range. In addition, the autopsy showed no signs of a struggle, contradicting police claims that Brown was involved in an altercation with Officer Wilson prior to being fired upon. These preliminary results are the first time that any details surrounding the death of Mike Brown on August 9 have been revealed. The town of Ferguson, Missouri is now entering its second week of civil unrest and some critics claim that the local police department’s refusal to clarify the circumstances surrounding the death of Mike Brown, as well as the manner in which his body was left to lay in the middle of the street for five hours after he was killed, as the catalysts that sparked mass protesting as thousands of people have taken to the streets to demand justice by non-violent and violent means.
“People have been asking: How many times was he shot? This information could have been released on Day 1,” Dr. Baden said. “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.”
On Saturday, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (D) declared a state of emergency and called on the National Guard to help restore some semblance of normalcy to the suburb of St. Louis. However, for many, normalcy means returning to being voiceless, powerless and marginalized in the face of generations of institutional racism.
Brown family attorney Daryl Parks believes the results of the autopsy contain enough evidence for Officer Darren Wilson to be arrested. On Sunday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced there would be another autopsy commissioned by the city of Ferguson, bringing the total number of autopsies to three.
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Unarmed victims of police aggressiveness Eric Garner, Ezell Ford, John H. Crawford, Jr. and Michael Brown have all been killed within the last two months. One can only hope that September will have a calming effect on the nation’s collective psyche in addition to yielding increased dialogue regarding pragmatic steps that can and should be taken to prevent these things from occurring again.