October 22, 2014

#Ferguson note to #SJW folks W: Was Michael Brown maybe not so "innocent"?

Michael Brown / Photo via St. Louis Post-Dispatch
The latest on Michael Brown indicates he may NOT have been in a "surrender position." We'll see if the third autopsy, when released, has anything to say about this. That said, while not excusing past racial problems in Ferguson, it's a reminder not to let facts be overrun by a "narrative."

Yes, there are "bad cops." I've written about a lesser-level bad cop at one of my newspapers. And, I've blogged about grand juries being too credulous about cops, and being coached on that by prosecutors.

There are also criminals. And, there are people who, even though not pre-meditated criminals, who are "intoxicated" or "under the influence," whether alcohol, cocaine, or even ... yes, even marijuana, who attack cops. I've written about them, too.

Part 1: He was shot at least once at close range, it seems:

The St. Louis medical examiner, Dr. Michael Graham, who is not part of the official investigation, reviewed the autopsy report for the newspaper. He said Tuesday that it “does support that there was a significant altercation at the car.” 
Graham said the examination indicated a shot traveled from the tip of Brown’s right thumb toward his wrist. The official report notes an absence of stippling, powder burns around a wound that indicate a shot fired at relatively short range. 
But Graham said, “Sometimes when it’s really close, such as within an inch or so, there is no stipple, just smoke.” 
The report on a supplemental microscopic exam of tissue from the thumb wound showed foreign matter “consistent with products that are discharged from the barrel of a firearm.”
Note that this is for St. Louis metro in its entirety. This is not a city of Ferguson medical examiner. It's the same type of ME as in other large metropolitan areas.

Second, note that his review is being further reviewed from outside, and one part of the "narrative," as I called it above, may be wrong.
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.
Unfortunately, the narrative has long been crafted. And, it's not easy to "uncraft" even for people who are partially open-minded.

I've blogged before about how neither "side" is totally right and how there's more than two "sides" here anyway.

For the two most prominent sides, though?

For people who want to believe in narratives rather than facts, like "Social Justice Warriors" of the second hashtag on one side, this news will be filed under "the authorities said" or similar and ignored.

For those people, I'd suggest looking at Dr. Melinik's CV. She's consulted for both plaintiffs and defense in both criminal and civil cases. And, she started her training in NYC at the time of 9/11. She's unbiased and expert.

Unfortunately, judging by Facebook reaction to just the top, Post-Dispatch link, the SJW side of the "narrative" isn't changing. I've had a friend of a friend flip me off, and an actual friend, not just a "Facebook friend," bring out "Reefer Madness" stereotypes as a reason to claim marijuana doesn't matter.

On the other hand, there are people from full-out racists to "no cop is a bad cop" types who will now use these findings to support their narratives, which are also wrong.

For those people, I'd suggest ...

A mirror. The city of Ferguson's racism-tinted history is well documented.

And, whichever side ultimately comes closer to the truth with their narrative, I'd suggest ...

You stop gloating. You only become more a part of the problem.

Behind all of this is a good argument for police to wear body-mounted video cameras. When they are being good cops, it protects them, too.


joshuaism said...

I really see this as another piece of inconclusive evidence, consistent with multiple eye-witness accounts and the single, unofficial, anonymous, friend-of-a-friend account reported on that call in radio show.

Initial eyewitness accounts said Brown was standing near the car at the start of the confrontation (wound on hand and wrist). Initial eyewitness accounts said Brown was shot at while running away and turned around after being hit (wound on forearm). Initial eyewitness accounts said Brown was shot while surrendering (shots to chest and head).

It sounds to me this Dr. Graham read the report in the most flattering way to the cop. "Oh he must 'a not been surrendering the right way." and "Oh ya can't shoot a guy in 'da hand 'less he goin' fo' 'dat gun." I'm still trying to figure out how the arm was contorted to be struck back to front if he was struck while running in either direction without hitting the body, but I can imagine holding a hand in the incorrect direction while surrendering if there is a wound, however slight to the wrist. And if they were struggling over the gun, why wasn't Brown's body hit when his wrist was? Brown didn't have much leverage over the gun if his arm was extended far from his body and clearly he wasn't close enough to have a hand on the gun if the bullet struck the tip of his thumb and his wrist.

But all in all, still inconclusive. Without video it can be read either way. So either a number of unrelated eye-witnesses are wrong, or the cop's friend of a friend is wrong.

Gadfly said...

It could wind up being inconclusive.

That said, eyewitness testimony — and, I note, for either defense or prosecution, family or police, and not just in this case — is often inaccurate.

And, if there was a struggle, people get twisted at crazy angles and guns fire at strange ones.