Who is selectively leaking information to help Officer Darren Wilson UPDATED BELOW
Cross posted from the Frederick Leatherman Law Blog
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
We are witnessing a massive coordinated effort by unnamed officials to unlawfully influence public opinion and the members of a grand jury regarding the Michael Brown shooting by selectively leaking and spinning information in the police investigation file. The purpose of this massive propaganda effort is to discredit eyewitness accounts of the shooting, persuade the public that Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown in self-defense and condition the public to accept a decision by the grand jury next month to not charge the officer with a crime.
The St.Louis Post Dispatch reported today,
The official autopsy on Michael Brown shows that he was shot in the hand at close range, according to an analysis of the findings by two experts not involved directly in the case.
The accompanying toxicology report shows he had been using marijuana.
A source with knowledge of Wilson’s statements said the officer had told investigators that Brown had struggled for Wilson’s pistol inside a police SUV and that Wilson had fired the gun twice, hitting Brown once in the hand. Later, Wilson fired additional shots that killed Brown and ignited a national controversy.
Now comes the spin.
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.” She added, “If he has his hand near the gun when it goes off, he’s going for the officer’s gun.”
Sources told the Post-Dispatch that Brown’s blood had been found on Wilson’s gun.
Melinek also said the autopsy did not support witnesses who have claimed Brown was shot while running away from Wilson, or with his hands up.
She said Brown was facing Wilson when Brown took a shot to the forehead, two shots to the chest and a shot to 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.
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 Wilson, as some witnesses have said, Melinek said. That trajectory shows Brown probably was not taking a standard surrender position with arms above the shoulders and palms out when he was hit, she said.
Let’s take it one step at a time:
1) [T]he autopsy “supports the fact that this guy is reaching for the gun, if he has gunpowder particulate material in the wound.” She added, “If he has his hand near the gun when it goes off, he’s going for the officer’s gun.”
Dorian Johnson said the officer backed up suddenly, blocking their way. The vehicle was so close that the door hit them when he opened it and attempted to get out. Mike pushed the door back and the officer reached through the open window, grabbed his arm and started pulling him. Mike resisted attempting to get away but the gun came out, a struggle ensued and a shot was fired inside the vehicle wounding him. Johnson saw blood on his arm. They turned and ran.
“If he has his hand near the gun when it goes off, he’s going for the officer’s gun.”
This is an overbroad, unprofessional and irresponsible conclusion to draw from merely reviewing an autopsy report and I do not believe any responsible and qualified pathologist would make such a statement. She cannot divine his intent from the autopsy report or recreate exactly what happened. The most that any responsible pathologist can say is that the injury as described in the report is consistent with or inconsistent with Dorian Johnson’s description of what happened.
Even if what he said is not true, and I believe it is, his statement is consistent with the injury described in the report.
Wilson is right handed and wears his gun in a holster against his right hip. I doubt Brown could have reached across Wilson’s body and seized the gun. Instead, I believe it’s more likely that Wilson grabbed the gun with his free hand as he held on to Brown and Brown struggled to avoid being shot and get away.
2) “She said Brown was facing Wilson when Brown took a shot to the forehead, two shots to the chest and a shot to 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.”
We know that Brown was at least 95 feet from Wilson’s vehicle when he was hit with the fatal shot and not 35 feet as claimed by the Ferguson police chief. ‘Lunge’ implies they were close together when Wilson fired the fatal shot, but none of the eyewitnesses, who, by the way did not know Brown or each other, said they were close together or that Brown was bull-rushing Wilson or that Wilson appeared to be in imminent danger of being killed or suffering a serious injury. No, they described an execution and two of them were white guys from another neighborhood. None of the witnesses had any motive to lie and every one of them was traumatized by what they saw.
‘Falling forward’ is a better choice of words.
Note that Dr. Michael Baden and Dr. Shawn Parcells, who performed the autopsy for Brown’s family, were unwilling to speculate on this point and their credentials are considerably more impressive than Dr. Melinek’s.
3) ” 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 Wilson, as some witnesses have said, Melinek said. That trajectory shows Brown probably was not taking a standard surrender position with arms above the shoulders and palms out when he was hit, she said.”
So, what? That does not mean his hands were not up before he was shot. Again, Dr. Baden and Dr. Parcells refused to speculate about what was happening or the order in which events occurred. Dr. Parcells warned that one cannot specifically say in what order the shots were fired or what Brown was doing when he received the shot to the arm because the shoulder, elbow and wrist joints permit considerable movement. One possibility he mentioned was that it might be a defensive wound to ward off a shot to the head, but he added, he could not be certain.
Some person or persons unknown is attempting to persuade the public and probably the grand jury not to indict Darren Wilson for murder by selectively leaking information and spinning it. This is criminal activity.
This article in the St.Louis Post Dispatch spin doctors the official autopsy report (that was not provided to Dr. Baden or Dr. Parcells) and a portion of Darren Wilson’s statement, which he initially refused to provide and now appears to have been molded to fit the known facts) to convince the public that Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown in self-defense, notwithstanding what all of the eyewitnesses said.
But it’s not limited to the St.Louis Dispatch.
New York Daily News, Michael Brown autopsy, officer’s account indicate teen went for Ferguson cop’s gun, had marijuana in his system: report
‘Hands up, don’t shoot’ protesters have it wrong, an independent review of Michael Brown’s autopsy reportedly shows. Nearly three months after unrest began in Ferguson, Mo., medical results point to a close-range struggle between the black teen and Officer Darren Wilson.
I already wrote about the dissembling on Sunday by the New York Times here.
UPDATE: Add Darren Wilson’s self-serving grand jury testimony to the flood (H/T to Wendy Davis for proving the update and a link.