Amid Continued Chaos In Ferguson, A Second Autopsy Is Released

Aug 18, 2014
Originally published on August 18, 2014 6:18 pm

A preliminary, independent autopsy report has been released in the shooting death of Michael Brown. Requested by the family, the autopsy finds that Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot six times by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo. This news follows the most violent night of protests there since the shooting.

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Residents are bracing for another night of demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri. This morning Governor Jay Nixon says he's deploying the Missouri National Guard to secure the St. Louis suburb, and he lifted the midnight curfew imposed over the weekend.

Also today, Michael Brown's family released preliminary results from an independent autopsy. NPR's Elise Hu reports from Ferguson.

ELISE HU, BYLINE: After days of failing to get answers from St. Louis County investigators about their son's death, Michael Brown's family hired an independent pathologist to answer some key questions. The autopsy by former New York City medical examiner Michael Baden and his associate, Shawn Parcells, showed Brown was shot six times, twice in the head - an answer the Brown family wanted sooner.


BENJAMIN CRUMP: It could have been answered on day one if you were really trying to have transparency be the objective.

HU: Brown's family attorney, Benjamin Crump, says the victim's mother, like any other mom, wanted to know if her son suffered.


CRUMP: She had the lingering question, as any mother would have, was my child in pain? And Dr. Baden shared with her, in his opinion, he did not suffer.

HU: But even with this information, pathologist Shawn Parcells says there's plenty of open questions about the circumstances that led to Brown's death.


SHAWN PARCELLS: We still have to look at other aspects of this investigation before we can really start piecing things together.

HU: The announcement of the private autopsy results came just as the community was waking up after another night of mayhem. Calm and quiet protests during the day here mask an anxiety that creeps in each night. Police show up at every intersection. They begin blocking roads as the sun sets, and for at least the last three nights in a row, nightfall has meant chaos - cops in riot gear, tear gas sprayed at crowds, confusion on every corner.

RODERICK GRIFFITH: I see it everyday from the window.

HU: Roderick Griffith works as a barber at Prime Time Barber Shop. It's located at the central hub of protests and police activity. He describes two Ferguson's - during the day...


HU: At night...

GRIFFITH: A war zone.

HU: When chaos broke out Sunday night, Griffith's barbershop filled with cops who were hit by the stray tear gas they used on crowds.

GRIFFITH: They all just came in here and just all piled in here - 60 metropolitan police in the barbershop. There was tear gas, snot running out of their nose - everything.

HU: By morning, Ferguson residents took part in what's become a new ritual - helping clean up shattered businesses. Looters hit the Dellwood Market, a convenience store, sometime Sunday night.

GERARD ADAMS: It's a mess. I'm talking about - you can't describe it. It's just messed up. They didn't have to do all this. Really, they didn't.

HU: Gerard Adams sweeps up broken glass that's soaked in liquor, spilled from store shelves. Like so many locals, he's sick of these scenes.

ADAMS: They're just doing something to be doing something - like, they're letting somebody know. Ain't nothing being known. It's just being a problem now.

HU: He doesn't want to be cleaning up. He, like barber Roderick Griffith, say they feel trapped by barricades in their own town. They're eager to get back to business.

GRIFFITH: I'm losing money. This is how we eat.

HU: But looking out on a main drag where cops are already converging, Griffith says he's not hopeful about peace tonight.

GRIFFITH: So how do you act when you're angry? You act out. You lash out. That's how they're acting.

HU: With so much uncertainty as night falls, getting back to normal may be days away. Elise Hu, NPR News, Ferguson, Missouri. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.