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Fight for justice in Ferguson

Protests over shooting of Michael Brown intensify

8/21/2014, noon
FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — The National Guard arrived in Ferguson but kept its distance from the streets where protesters clashed ...
Smoke from a tire burnout rises over protestors on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson on Friday, Aug. 15. AP Photo

A third autopsy was performed Monday for the Justice Department by one of the military’s most experienced medical examiners, Attorney General Eric Holder said.

Holder was scheduled to travel to Ferguson later this week to meet with FBI and other officials carrying out an independent federal investigation into Brown’s death.

The Justice Department has mounted an unusually swift and aggressive response to Brown’s death, from the independent autopsy to dozens of FBI agents combing Ferguson for witnesses to the shooting.

In Washington, President Barack Obama said the vast majority of protesters in Ferguson were peaceful, but warned that a small minority was undermining justice. Obama said overcoming the mistrust endemic between many communities and their local police would require Americans to “listen and not just shout.”

Obama said he also spoke to Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon about his deployment of the National Guard in Ferguson and urged the governor to ensure the Guard was used in a limited way.

Brown family attorney Benjamin Crump said Brown’s parents wanted the additional autopsy because they feared results of the county’s examination could be biased. Crump declined to release copies of the report.

“They could not trust what was going to be put in the reports about the tragic execution of their child,” he said during Monday’s news conference with forensic pathologist Shawn Parcells and Dr. Michael Baden, who has testified in several high-profile cases, including the O.J. Simpson murder trial.

The second autopsy, Crump said, “verifies that the witness accounts were true: that he was shot multiple times.”

Parcells, who assisted former New York City chief medical examiner Baden during the private autopsy, said a bullet grazed Brown’s right arm. He said the wound indicates Brown may have had his back to the shooter, or he could have been facing the shooter with his hands above his head or in a defensive position across his chest or face.

“We don’t know,” Parcells said. “We still have to look at the other (elements) of this investigation before we start piecing things together.”

Baden said one of the bullets entered the top of Brown’s skull, suggesting his head was bent forward when he suffered that fatal injury. The hired pathologists said Brown, who also was shot four times in the right arm, could have survived the other bullet wounds.

Baden also said there was no gunpowder residue on Brown’s body, indicating he was not shot at close range. However, Baden said he did not have access to Brown’s clothing, and that it was possible the residue could be on the clothing.

Crump also said that Brown had abrasions on his face from where he fell to the ground, but there was “otherwise no evidence of a struggle.”

Associated Press writers Alan Scher Zagier in Ferguson, Jim Salter in St. Louis and David A. Lieb in Jefferson City contributed to this report.