#Forensics in Michael Brown shooting : Chaos, uncertainty and confusion in the Press and now….Silence?

Summary and comment: The staid demeanor of most forensic science CSI shows and public conventions has been contradicted  by the explosion of news media coverage of forensics related to Michael Brown’s shooting in Ferguson, MO. Who says forensic scientists always agree? In my personal experience forensic Pundits of all types rise to the surface when the cameras are on. The big Pundits hate it when someone disagrees with them. This occurs even when equivocal or incomplete evidence shows up in a case. Retaliation is not unheard of as an aftermath. Fear of such keeps others quiet.

Added comment: I have not seen anything substantive on the Net/Media about forensic commentators reviewing any of the relevant data released since the Ferguson Gran Jury release. I wonder what’s going on?? I’d think the AAFS would offer itself as a arbiter of what true. Many of the forensic path types involved so far are members.


This week , Robert McCullough, the Ferguson District Attorney released the testimony and evidence list and most documents (no autopsy pix)  presented to the Grand Jury since September 2014. Among his statements, was “all the autopsy reports agreed with one another.”

For a while, the “talking” heads on TV certainly didn’t imply that the pathologists agreed at all.  McCullough  statement implied that all the other forensic evidence was clearly in agreement (aka: “the physical evidence never lies.” )

I thought doing a quick web search (over 500K pages on “Michael Brown autopsy’) on the news releases about the path reports an evidence analysis might be interesting.  What I found is not the final answer. Just more questions in alot of areas.

To recap: Three autopsies were performed by the St’ Louis Med Ex, the Brown family path consultant, and the federal ME the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. All three investigations were originally reported as “collaborative.”


It all started in August on Sunday August 17, 2014

And it wasn’t nice. Here’s a smattering of the blogosphere. Obvious trends and mis-statements and mis-interpretations abound.

Aug 18 “Brown autopsy indicates unarmed teenager may have been surrendering” says Brown family Attorney Daryl Parks.

Aug 18 Some TV station says autopsy reports “unlikely to solve dueling narratives.” 

Aug 19 Autopsy confirms execution-style killing of Michael Brown …


Uh oh. “Professor” Parcells shows up. This didn’t help the credibility of the family’s pathology report. This interloper arrives who messes with everything to get some pr time. I’m not sure what Baden had to do with it. He probably got scammed by some attorney to allow this guy to “assist.”

Aug 21 My Blog on Michael Brown autopsy. “What the autopsies can and cannot tell us about Ferguson.”

Nov 22 This one is ridiculously wrong. Autopsy Report is NOT Inconsistent With Mike Brown Being Shot From Behind While Running Away .

rb chart copy

Oct 17 Brown family pathologist “misses” Gunshot Residue on Michael Brown’s hand, but says “GSR may showup on clothing.” Also statements from others about Brown being 20 feet from Wilson at final shooting is incorrect. Much later GJ was told 130 feet.

Oct 22 Talking head non-involved medical examiner goes on the record. .

“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.

Oct 22 NPR follows the St. Louis Dispatch quote

Oct 23  Autopsy of slain Missouri teen shows close-range gunshot. (Oct 23). Reuters gives us a glimpse of what was stated after the GJ evidence news release. 

Oct 29 Brown family pathologist, Michael Baden, in October gets aggressive about disagreement between his opine on GSR and the opine from the St. Louis Medical Examiners Office. 

Another non-involved medical examiner steps into the fray and gets a bit singed.

“Autopsy suggests Brown reached for officer’s gun”

Blogging at its best. “Stupidest Man on the Internet Proves Michael Brown autopsy in a Complete Fraud.”

More recently

Another non involved medical examiner speaks out. Pathologist Cyril Wecht in action video interview. This was just prior to Monday’s GJ “data dump.” He uses “absurd” regarding police officer Dennis Wilson’s defense.

PARCELS the autopsy professor gets more headlines (a bit of a pun).

The two talking head pathologists who either mis-spoke or were mis-interpreted in their public statements “explaining” pathology are still getting noticed.

Forensic Evidence: Blood spatter indicates struggle, THC in Brown’s toxicology panel. 

Another noninvolved expert, this time in ballistics, renders opinions and “explaining” about gunshot evidence. Given before GJ data release.

As of three days ago, a reporter in New Orleans says only 2 autopsies were performed, but properly focuses on the “data dump” provided by the Robert McCullough earlier this week with great links to its contents. http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2014/11/michael_brown_autopsy_report.html

And…….Maybe the best takeaway regarding forensics so far from the Brown tragdey.

How eyewitness reports change over time when influenced by news media, community pressure and ultimately, much delayed forensic facts. 

About csidds

Dr. Michael Bowers is a long time forensic consultant in the US and international court systems.
This entry was posted in criminal justice, Ferguson Forensics, Michael Brown forensic science and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to #Forensics in Michael Brown shooting : Chaos, uncertainty and confusion in the Press and now….Silence?

  1. csidds says:

    Reblogged this on FORENSICS in FOCUS @ CSIDDS | News and Trends and commented:

    The Watch talks about the shady “Professor” of Michael Brown’s autopsy and reveals ALOT of politics behind the real pathologist Michael Baden. Saga of Shawn Parcells, the uncredited forensics ‘expert’ in Michael Brown’s case + Media doesn’t care about facts. http://wapo.st/1CC29Yp

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