FERGUSON, Mo. — Michael Brown was shot at least six times, according to the preliminary results of a private autopsy that his family requested.
The independent autopsy was conducted by high-profile pathologist Michael Baden. Baden testified in the O.J. Simpson, Phil Spector and Drew Peterson murder trials.
Family attorney Daryl Parks did not provide additional details about the preliminary results.
However, the New York Times, reporting on the same independent autopsy, reported that two of the bullets struck Brown in the head. The other four struck him in the right arm — and all six were fired into his front.
“The bullets did not appear to have been shot from very close range because no gunpowder was present on his body,” the newspaper reported. “However, that determination could change if it turns out that there is gunshot residue on Mr. Brown’s clothing, to which Dr. Baden did not have access.”
“This is bound to escalate tensions,” Rev. Jesse Jackson said. “This is a very provocative report.”
Even before the release of this latest information, the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson has been a racially charged tinderbox.
Clashes once again
A day of peaceful protests devolved into a night of Molotov cocktails and tear gas in Ferguson, Missouri.
Officers fired tear gas into a crowd of hundreds of protesters marching toward a police command post Sunday night. Authorities also struck one defiant protester with rubber bullets.
St. Louis County police said several protesters had thrown Molotov cocktails toward the officers before authorities shot tear gas toward them.
Officers tried to push back and contain a crowd of protesters, which included children. The crowd didn’t let up despite an impending midnight curfew.
The scene was a far cry from a packed church earlier Sunday, where hundreds of people gathered for a two-hour rally demanding justice for Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager shot dead eight days ago by a white police officer.
A cousin of Brown told the church audience that Brown was killed without reason.
“What I want y’all to remember is that Michael Brown was not just some young black boy. He was a human being … ,” Ty Pruitt said. “He was not a suspect. He was not an object. He was not an animal. But that’s how he was killed.”
Michael Brown’s parents — Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr. — appeared on stage at the rally at Greater Grace Church with attorney Benjamin Crump but didn’t address the audience.
“What we’re really asking for is simple justice,” Crump said. “We’re not asking for anything extraordinary. They just want what anybody else would want if their children were shot down in broad daylight.”
Crump said there would be an independent investigation in addition to the federal and local probes already under way.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson spoke to the 1,300 people in the congregation and said he had a heavy heart.
“The past 24 hours have been tough for me,” said Johnson, who took over security in the town on Thursday after what many saw as an overly aggressive police response by the local authorities. Johnson said he met with members of the Brown family and was moved to tears.
He also had to deal with a night where protests turned violent after a curfew began. One male was shot overnight Saturday, authorities said. It was unclear how old he was or who shot him. The victim was in critical condition on Sunday.
Officials said state highway patrol officers didn’t fire any shots. They did fire tear gas to get to the wounded victim, Johnson said early Sunday.
Seven people were arrested after the curfew was violated.
“I can tell you that I was disappointed in the actions of (Saturday) tonight,” said Johnson.
The Rev. Al Sharpton said the protesters were not anti-police.
“We don’t think all police are bad. We’re not anti-sitting down and solving the problem,” he said at Sunday’s rally. “We are not going to shut up. We are going to come together and have a real peace in this country.”
Renewed protest, another person shot
On Sunday night there were noticeably fewer police officers on a one-mile stretch of road where protesters have been gathering each night. There were a few cars on the road, which had been closed to through traffic.
Hundreds of people, some holding signs, paraded up and down the avenue.
The peaceful nature of the protest changed around 9 p.m. CT when marchers began retreating as police trucks slowly moved down the street and smoke filled the road.
Police said one person had been shot Sunday night and suffered minor wounds.
Two more autopsies
Brown was shot to death August 9 by a police officer after a confrontation as the teen walked down the street. Accounts of exactly what happened when Officer Darren Wilson stopped Brown vary widely.
Witnesses said they saw a scuffle between the officer and Brown at the police car before the young man was shot. Police said Brown struggled with the officer and reached for his weapon.
Several witnesses said Brown raised his hands and was not attacking the officer.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has approved a second autopsy on Brown’s body, the Justice Department said Sunday.
The autopsy will be conducted by a federal medical examiner, Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon said in a statement.
“Due to the extraordinary circumstances involved in this case and at the request of the Brown family, Attorney General Holder has instructed Justice Department officials to arrange for an additional autopsy,” the statement said.
“This independent examination will take place as soon as possible. Even after it is complete, Justice Department officials still plan to take the state-performed autopsy into account in the course of their investigation.”
Holder briefed President Obama on the case Sunday, a White House official said. The two also will meet Monday at the White House for an update on the federal investigation into the shooting.
There will be a third autopsy, at the request of the family.
Anthony Gray, a lawyer for the Brown family, said that high-profile pathologist Michael Baden would conduct an autopsy on the teenager’s body. Baden testified in the O.J. Simpson, Phil Spector and Drew Peterson murder trials.
“We are very focused on getting the autopsy done, getting the ballistic experts,” Crump told the rally audience.
Dozens of protesters — a noticeably younger group than what has been the norm in Ferguson — gathered late Saturday to express their disagreement by marching and raising their hands in the air. The surrender posture — which some witnesses say Brown was showing when he was killed — has become symbolic of the protests.
St. Louis Alderman Antonio French spoke with protesters to try to convince them to abide by the curfew — which he said was a compromise reached between the government and community leaders.
While many heeded French’s advice, a small group of people could not be convinced to stay home.
“Some of the guys didn’t want to be told to leave,” French said. “That’s their right.”
Police fired smoke canisters on protesters in the first hour of the curfew.
Johnson said authorities clamped down on protesters in response to the shooting, as opposed to the curfew violations.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said that despite the violence and arrests, he was happy overall with authorities’ handling of the unrest. He also thanked community members who he said were helpful in getting the city “through what could have been a very difficult night.”
There were also protesters who violated the curfew on Saturday and some looting.
Sharpton, in his remarks at the church, said people should not damage property and steal things in Brown’s name.
“We are not looters; we are liberators. We are not burners; we are builders,” he said.
Police have been criticized for not doing more to stop looting of at least three stores Saturday.
“You still have a job to do now, and now you’re not doing your job,” Tanya Littleton said Saturday of police after thieves broke into her beauty supply shop and made off with bags of hair extensions worth hundreds of dollars.
Protests during the day had been peaceful. At noon Saturday — the hour that police said Wilson shot Brown a week earlier — protesters outside the police station silently raised their arms into the air.
Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson joined loud crowds that marched in the street carrying signs saying, “Mike Brown is our son” and “The whole world is watching Ferguson.” They chanted, “Hands up, don’t shoot” and “Hey hey, ho ho, killer cops have got to go.”