Lost in the tragic shooting in Ottawa today is a blockbuster story that’s gotten little attention: The white police officer who shot and killed an African American man in Ferguson, Missouri, triggering weeks of racial strife, may well have had a good reason.
It started with a report early this morning in the St. Louis Post Dispatch with a leak from a grand jury hearing the case. The newspaper obtained officer Darren Wilson’s testimony and the autopsy of Michael Brown.
A source with knowledge of Wilson’s statements said the officer had told investigators that Brown had struggled for Wilson’s pistol inside a police SUV and that Wilson had fired the gun twice, hitting Brown once in the hand. Later, Wilson fired additional shots that killed Brown and ignited a national controversy.
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.”
Another forensic pathologist, Judy Melinek, told the newspaper 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.”
The newspaper provided only one source for its information. Not so, the Washington Post which cites multiple, though unnamed, sources that appear to unravel the narrative that Brown was attempting to surrender when he was shot to death.
Among the Post’s findings:
* Seven or eight African American eyewitnesses have provided testimony consistent with Wilson’s account, but none of them have spoken publicly out of fear for their safety, The Washington Post’s sources said.
* The Post’s sources said the levels of THC in Brown’s body may have been high enough to trigger hallucinations.
* In interviews with The Washington Post, sources said blood spatter evidence shows that Brown was heading toward the officer during their face-off, but analysis of the evidence did not reveal how fast Brown was moving.
“The family has not believed anything the police or this medical examiner has said,” Benjamin L. Crump, an attorney for the Brown family, said. “They have their witnesses. We have seven witnesses that we know about that say the opposite.”