Documents from the St. Louis County medical examiner’s office show that Ferguson teenager Michael Brown was shot in the hand at close range.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has obtained copies of the autopsy and toxicology report. According to the Post-Dispatch’s sources, Officer Darren Wilson told investigators that Brown had attempted to grab his gun inside the police SUV and Wilson fired twice in response. One of those shots hit Brown in the hand.
The Post-Dispatch spoke with St. Louis medical examiner Dr. Michael Graham regarding the autopsy report. Graham is not involved in the investigation but stated that the autopsy “does support that there was a significant altercation at the car.”
The official autopsy report states there were no powder burns around the wound which are typically seen when a shot is fired at short range. Still, Graham tells the Post-Dispatch that sometimes there are no burns, “just smoke.” The report did find foreign matter in the the thumb wound that is “consistent with products that are discharged from the barrel of a firearm.”
The toxicology report also shows that Brown had cannabis in his system at the time of the shooting. This piece of information has been highlighted repeatedly by various media outlets. It is supposed to be a sign of bad character or an indicator of violent predisposition. However, there is no evidence to indicate that smoking cannabis leads to violent activity. In fact, at least one study has shown that couples who smoke cannabis experience domestic violence less often than couples who do not.
The point is, whether Brown had smoked a joint or not is irrelevant to the discussion of what exactly happened between the man and the police officer. The result of the August 9th shooting has been months of protests and arrests as communities are divided, often along racial lines. But once again, the focus should be on the actions taken that day and whether or not they were justified. Those in pursuit of the truth should seek it and look beyond the fear mongering and other divisive tactics. Beyond the disinformation and misinformation lies the truth.
For a more in-depth look at the Ferguson situation, including first hand reporting live on the scene please check out the article “Reflecting on Ferguson”.