Saturday, November 28, 2020

Third Michael Brown autopsy unlikely to solve mystery

Must read

Bacteria on shoes could help forensic teams catch suspects

Prospective criminals should take note: bacteria are everywhere. A small pilot study has shown that the germs on personal belongings such as shoes and mobile phones...

Fingerprints Could Glow for Future Forensics

Fingerprints are not just important in forensics and the identification of people; they can also be used for security clearance, access control, and the...

New York’s Chief Medical Examiner Seeks to Lead in DNA Research

She is the closest thing to a hometown medical examiner that a city of eight million people could really expect to see. Born in...

Fingered out: Gene that causes people to be born without fingerprints discovered

Notorious 1930s gangster John Dillinger was willing to suffer excruciating pain to burn his fingerprints off with acid so they could not be used...
Michael Whyte
Crime Scene Officer and Fingerprint Expert with over 7 years experience in Crime Scene Investigation and Latent Print Analysis. The opinions or assertions contained on this site are the private views of the author and are not to be construed as those of any professional organisation or policing body.
- Forensic Podcast -

A third autopsy was conducted on Monday on the body of Michael Brown, the black teenager shot by a police officer on 9 August in Ferguson, Missouri. Violent clashes have broken out between police and Ferguson residents over the killing, with witnesses and police putting forward different versions of what happened.

Did Brown have his arms up when he was shot? Was he running towards police? The third autopsy, ordered by federal authorities, may not clarify what happened. “It is unlikely to be necessary,” says Michael Graham, a forensic pathologist at St Louis University, and will not find anything significantly different from the original one performed on the day Brown died.

The first autopsy, conducted by St Louis County Medical Examiner Mary Case, confirmed police accounts – that the 18-year-old was killed by gunshot wounds – though the number of shots that hit Brown was not made public. Full details of the first autopsy are still under wraps. Brown’s family requested their own autopsy, which was performed by veteran medical examiner Michael Baden.

Baden, former chief medical examiner for New York, testified in the O.J. Simpson case, and chaired the panel reinvestigating the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He has conducted some 20,000 autopsies. His preliminary report shows nine gunshot wounds: four on the right arm, three on the head and two on the chest – with no wounds on the back. This appears to support the claim of the police officer who shot Brown, Darren Wilson, who says Brown was facing him when he fired. But other interpretations have been put forward. Dorian Johnson, a friend of Brown’s who was with him at the time, describes him being shot in the back.

In a press briefing after the autopsy, Baden said he needed more forensic evidence. “From a science point of view, we can’t determine which witnesses’ statements are consistent with the findings,” he said. “Given this wound pattern, you could come up with a thousand positions and scenarios,” Graham says.

Baden states that Brown was shot at least six times, and the last bullet entered the top of his bowed head, killing him instantly. But only three bullets were found in the body. The third autopsy, requested by federal authorities, may not be able to resolve the questions, since damage caused by the first and second autopsy may mean the third is compromised.

Several pathologists have aired their scepticism at Baden’s preliminary results. “It may be possible to account for these wounds with only three bullets, and not six as suggested,” says UK Home Office forensic pathologist Ben Swift, although he stresses that he was only working from images made public by Baden.

Another complicating factor is embalming. Brown’s body was embalmed after the first autopsy, which may limit the information discernable from the gunshot wounds, as the colour and texture of the body is altered.

Original Article: 19 August 2014 by Anna Williams – New Scientist

- Advertisement -

More articles

- Advertisement -

Latest article

Trees and shrubs might reveal the location of decomposing bodies

Plants could help investigators find dead bodies. Botanists believe the sudden flush of nutrients into the soil from decomposition may affect nearby foliage. If...

Are Detectives discounting the associative value of fingerprints that fall short of an identification in their investigations?

Every day, Fingerprint Experts in every latent office across the globe examine fingermarks that they determine to fall short of an identification....

Using the NCIC Bayesian Network to improve your AFIS searches

This National Crime Information Centre (NCIC) Bayesian network is based on the statistical data of general patterns of fingerprints on the hands...

DNA decontamination of fingerprint brushes

Using fingerprint brushes across multiple crime scenes yields a high risk of DNA cross-contamination. Thankfully an Australian study has discovered a quick and easy way to safely decontaminate fingerprint brushes to prevent this contamination risk and allows the brushes to be safely reused even after multiple cleaning cycles.

Detection of latent fingerprint hidden beneath adhesive tape by optical coherence tomography

Adhesive tape is a common item which can be encountered in criminal cases involving rape, murder, kidnapping and explosives. It is often the case...