What to look for in dueling autopsies of Michael Brown

Post mortem by Michael Baden is only the beginning as teams of specialists study the body of 18-year-old African American killed by police


In the next few weeks, separate teams of doctors will issue autopsy reports about Michael Brown, the unarmed African American shot to death by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. If history is any guide, they will differ, perhaps significantly, on how to interpret the gunshot wounds on his body. Michael Baden, the veteran medical examiner chosen to autopsy the body by Brown's family, has released the preliminary results of his autopsy and both the St. Louis County Medical Examiner and U.S. Justice Department have announced plans to conduct or commission separate post mortems.

As a journalist, I've read roughly 1,000 autopsy reports and spent much of my career reporting on fatal encounters between police officers and civilians. Here's some of what Baden found and what experts will be looking for as they examine Brown's corpse:

1. Evidence that Brown was fleeing from the officer who shot him, Darren Wilson. Shots to the back are a red flag, indicating the victim may have been running from the officer rather than attacking. The basic law on use of force turns on whether a police officer acted from a "reasonable belief" that he or she was facing a lethal threat. Baden — who was hired by Brown's family — believes Brown was shot at least six times with all the bullets striking him from the front.

2. Signs of a physical altercation. Forensic pathologists study the exterior of the body for bruises, scrapes and lacerations which can be signs that a scuffle preceded the fatal shots. Witnesses have said Brown and Wilson wrestled in the moments before the killing. On Baden's diagram of Brown's body, the doctor does not appear to have noted any significant injuries other than the gun shot wounds. Baden did not find gunpowder residue on Brown's hands, one piece of evidence that would likely be present if the two men were struggling for control of a gun discharged at close range.

3. Bullet trajectory. Shots fired at a downward angle may indicate the officer fired while the victim was on his knees or laying on the ground. A person in those positions generally poses less of a physical threat. Baden said a shot to Brown's head appeared to have come from above; he believes this was the fatal shot.

4. Number of shots. Baden voiced concern over the fact that Brown was hit by at least six shots. The doctor, who served earlier in his career as chief medical examiner for New York City and as an expert for the New York State Police, was quoted by the New York Times as saying, "In my capacity as the forensic examiner for the New York State Police, I would say, 'You're not supposed to shoot so many times.'" The number of shots may or may not be significant. Training on lethal force varies from department to department. Many forces train officers to continue firing until the suspect has been completely subdued. Some experts say that incidents in which a civilian has been hit with a single shot are more suspicious than those with multiple shots: The lone bullet could have been fired accidentally or in a moment of rage.

5. Gunshot residue. The presence of gunshot residue (GSR) on the skin or clothes of the victim may mean that the person was shot at very close range. Baden found no GSR on Brown's body, but said he did not scrutinize his clothing. Additionally, bullets fired from a few inches away leave distinct wound patterns on the flesh. Baden's report suggests the shots were fired from further away.

6. The presence of alcohol or drugs. Baden has not reviewed the toxicology tests, but results of those tests should be available soon (though it could take the authorities months to release them). Forensic pathologists typically fill vials with bodily fluids — urine, blood, or vitreous humor, the fluid within the eyeballs — and send them off to outside laboratories to be screened for alcohol, prescription drugs, and street drugs. If drugs or alcohol are discovered Brown's system, that information might provide some additional context to the fatal events.

In some police-civilian clashes, the evidence discovered during an autopsy turns out to be crucial. In the case of Michael Brown, it’s not clear how useful this trio of autopsies will be. As the nation tries to understand what happened on August 9, the autopsy results may well not prove conclusive on the key questions.



Nifty, Sensex rally may pause: Monday closing report
The on-going rally may pause for breath but the trend is up
In our Thursday’s report, we mentioned that as long as the NSE’s CNX Nifty remains above the days’ low of 7,739, the uptrend will continue. On Monday, 18 August 2014, though the 50-share Nifty opened slightly in the negative, it was well above the previous day’s low of 7,739. The Nifty came out of the red within the first 30 minutes of day’s trade and continued its upward momentum. The Nifty closed at 7,874 (up 82.55 points or 1.06%), an all-time closing high, minutes after hitting its all-time intra-day high of 7,880. 
The BSE’s S&P Sensex opened at 26,123 and hit a low of 26,075, after which it rose 315 points to end the day at an all-time closing high of 26,390 (up 288 points or 1.10%), 23 points below its all-time intra-day high of 26,413. 
On the Nifty, as many as 42 stocks advanced while eight closed in the negative. Among the 30 stocks on the Sensex, 24 stocks closed with a gain, while five declined and one remained unchanged. Of the 3,031 scrips traded on the BSE, 1,930 advanced while 1,003 declined and about 98 remained unchanged.
Among the top gainers on the Nifty were oil stocks such as BPCL (5.42%) and ONGC (4.80%), gaining on lower crude oil prices. Crude oil declined by 1% to $94 per barrel in international markets from a close of $95 on 15 August 2014. Crude oil has eased considerably from a peak of $106 seen on 20 June 2014.
Among other gainers on the Nifty were Cipla (5.05%), Axis Bank (4.78%) and Tata Motors (4.22%). Cipla’s June quarter results reported that its operating margins increased by 4 percentage points to 20% sequentially. The management maintained its revenue guidance for FY2015-16. Tata Motors reported a 12.24% increase in sales, year-on-year for luxury brand Jaguar Land Rover, in the month of July.
Software and IT stocks declined on fears of the appreciation of the rupee. Three software stocks were among the bottom five losers on the Nifty. ITC (-1.86%), Infosys (-1.51%), HDFC (-1.09%), HCL Technologies (-1.04%) and TCS (-0.75%) were at bottom of the 30-share list. The rupee closed on a strong note on Thursday, below the Rs61 per dollar level.
Delivering his first Independence Day speech on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasised the need for better governance. He further mentioned that he wanted to turn India into a manufacturing and export powerhouse, coupled with employment generation. Modi also proposed an ambitious financial inclusion plan, to enable the poor to open bank accounts, with an insurance cover of Rs1 lakh. 
Among the NSE’s sector indices, the CNX PSE (Public Sector Enterprise) index, and the CPSE index were the biggest gainers, rising 2.92% and 2.72%, respectively. The gains were also supported by a rally in the stocks of oil marketing companies as well. The government is also said to be planning to launch a new exchange traded fund with SUUTI and PSU stakes.
A new set of guidelines is expected to be announced shortly for appointment of independent directors on bank boards. According to newspaper reports, the government wants to split the role of the chairman and managing director of the PSU banks. It says that the chairman would be a reputed person from the industry while the managing director-CEO will run the daily functioning of the bank. The MD would have a fixed term of three years, which could be extended by two more years. The Bank Nifty gained 2.92% while the CNK PSU Bank index gained 2.22%.
Among the losers were the CNX FMCG index and the CNX IT Index which declined by 0.45% and 0.47% respectively.
Trading volumes on the NSE was lower compared to that on 14th August. The exchange recorded a trading volume of 793 million shares on Monday compared to 903 million shares traded on Thursday. Foreign investors had pumped in Rs625 crore on Thursday, marking the third day of consecutive inflows.
In the world market, a few Asian indices closed the day’s trade in the red. The benchmark indices of Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea closed lower. China’s Shanghai Composite index closed in the black even though China’s new-home prices declined in July. Prices fell in 64 of the 70 cities last month from June, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. 
Later in the day, European stocks rallied on expectations of easing measures by the European Central Bank (ECB). The ECB is speculated to begin quantitative easing to strengthen the faltering recovery in the region. The US is to report private sector data on the housing market later in the day. US index futures were trading sharply higher in premarket trading.


Rajasthan ACB files FIR against directors of private firm, UltraTech Cement
Rajasthan ACB has registered case of fraud and corruption against four directors of a private company, three directors  of UltraTech Cement and senior  officials of its mining department in a case of lease transfer in Nagaur district
The Rajasthan Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has filed a first information report (FIR) against senior officials from the Mines Department, former shareholders of Gotan Limestone Khanji Udyog Pvt Ltd and three directors of UltraTech Cement, for alleged illegal transfer of a limestone mine in Gotan area in Nagaur district.
The FIR was filed on a complaint by BJP leader Kirit Somaiya against Ram Vallabh Chauhan, Suresh Chauhan, Ramesh Chauhan and Ram Avtar Chauhan, all former shareholders of Gotan Limestone Khanji Udyog Pvt Ltd, its present directors CK Birla, Rahul Mahnot and MB Aggarwal (all three directors of UltraTech), the Director of Mines and Geology and other concerned officials of the department, an ACB official said.
The matter is related to the leas of 1,000 hectares of land near Dhanapa village in Nagaur district, which in 1984 was allotted to partnership firm Gotan Limestone Khanij Udyog. Its partners, formed a private limited company, Gotan Limestone Khanji Udyog Pvt Ltd in March 2012 and got the lease transferred, despite the rule that lease of natural resources cannot be transferred or sold or sub-leased, under political influence during the previous regime, complainant Somaiya had alleged in his complaint submitted in May this year.
"After the lease was transferred, the company sold its stake to UltraTech in August 2012. The four shareholders (Chauhan brothers) resigned and three directors of the UtraTech Cement (CK Birla, Rahul Mahnot and MB Aggarwal) took over. This way, the lease was sold to UltraTech Cement under a conspiracy and the Mines department officials facilitated it," Somaiya alleged.
After verification of the facts and examining papers, the FIR was registered against the accused under relevant sections of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act, according to the ACB official.


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