Witnesses: Part III


  • Part I: Crime Scene Detective 1
  • Part II: Crime Scene Detective 2
  • Part III: Forensic Pathologist
  • Part IV: Dorian Johnson (Not yet posted)

Forensic Pathologist – St. Louis County

This segment is a little bit harder to read because it is largely in reference to pictorial evidence that we do not have access to.  The summaries of the injuries toward the end are the most important element.

All Page Numbers are in reference to total 4799 page PDF.


Summary of important topics:

  • -Autopsy took place on August 10th, 2014
  • -Body was locked in a container and transported. Chain of custody was maintained from scene to medical examiner.
  • -Michael Brown weighed 289 lbs and was 6 foot 5 inches tall.
  • -Forensic Pathologist explains his rationale between entry/exit wounds.
  • -The injury to the hand was a close range gun shot graze
  • -The injury to the eye was not fatal. The gunshot entered the skin of the head and went toward the point of least resistance which traveled through Brown’s eye but did not pierce his skull.
  • -The injury that entered the top of his head was fatal and presumably the final shot.
  • -The top of the head shot came from a distance greater than 3 feet.
  • -6 entrance wounds. 3 exit wounds. 2 graze wounds.
  • -All shots were to the front. The shot to the dorsal portion of the right forearm arm could have come while trailing behind or from a number of other scenarios.


Page 333

Q: Now, in this particular case, did you examine the body of Michael Brown?

A: Yes, I did.

Q: What day did you examine him?

A: August 10th

Page 344

Q: So when the body leaves the scene, is it taken directly to your offices or where is the examining on the 10th, what happens between when it is collected and this day?

A: The body is picked up from a delivery service, delivery service is responsible for picking the body up from the scene. At that point when the body is picked up from the scene, it is brought directly to the St. Louis County Medical Examiner and it is placed in the morgue, in a cooler, until eventually I’m going to come for the examination.

Let me back up a step. When the body comes in and it is checked in by the morgue staff or it is given a number, and just to make sure that it is logged in appropriately and put into the morgue, but the body goes into the cooler to wait until the next day. We will take initial round of pictures and then we will get to the point where we are right now.

Page 345

Q: So when the body was removed from the cooler, was it still locked in the bag?

A: Correct.

Page 371

Q: How much did he weigh? Do you have your report there if you want to refer it?

A: Specifically 289 pounds.

Q: Is that without clothing or with clothing?

A: That’s with clothing.

Q: And then do you also measure the height of this person?
A: Yes, we do.

Q: And how tall was Michael Johnson?

A: 77 inches.

Q: And I’m not good at math, but is that 6 feet 5 inches?

A: Yes.

Page 387

A: Then you want to assess the edges, meaning assessing the edges is determining how they appear to you because that is going to be important to determine whether it is entrance or exit. In this particular situation, they are a little bit irregular, but there is no type of additional margin around it, it is still a clean wound. So when I say clean, there is no contusion, the is no abrasion around it, it is just coming, coming right back out the skin making really no abnormalities to it. So with me seeing that, this once again let’s me know that this is another exit wound, but on a different part of the body. I know that I have an entrance wound someplace else.

Page 392

A: If you look at the hand, and I will kind of walk around. If you see that material in there, you can’t really appreciate it too well on the screen, but that’s something where we are talking about soot and talking about stippling, this is where this is coming into play. This isn’t stippling, the stippling, I told you, is unburned particles that cause the little dots on the skin. This is soot, which is the burned gunpowder that’s coming out of the barrel of the gun and it is being deposited on the skin discoloring it and leaving it there. So there is soot there on the hand.

Q: So that means that it was a close range to the gun? This entered his body or grazed his body at a closer range to the gun than it would be if it was stippling or nothing at all?

A: Correct.

Page 396

A: All I can say it is a close range wound. For him to get that, he is within 6 to 9 inches however scenario you want to create in your head.

Page 398

A: So at that point that’s all I can truly say that this is what I have, it is foreign particular matter that had to be introduced into his skin.   Now the next step is well, okay, where did it come from. I can at this point say from what I’ve seen from textbooks that I have looked in histology and from what I have seen in the past, the material that I’m seeing is consistent with products that are discharged from the barrel of a firearm.

Page 399

Q: I have one question. So that wound, the hand wound, so basically the projectile, there was no exit wound?

A: Exactly, it is just running along the skin surface. It is a graze wound.

Page 434

In reference to the gunshot near the eye:

Q: Now, does this projectile travel through any portion of the brain?

A: No, it does not.

Q: And now I know you said it went through some bone that was below the eye, does it fracture the bone at the entrance site?

A: No, it does not.

Q: So it goes into the skin and the soft tissue and then almost travels along the bone, along the, just underneath the skin?

A: Correct.

Q: Going through the globe of the eye?
A: Correct.

Q: And then breaking a bone?

A: Correct.

Q: Now, would this type of wound immediately render someone disabled?
A: No.

Q: If someone sustained this type of wound could they continue to stand up for a while?

A: Yes, they could.

Q: Could they continue to be mobile?

A: Yes, they could.

Q: And, obviously I’m sorry, Sheila (Assistant Prosecutor) with the eye being pierced in this case, they would lose this vision from their right eye, correct?

A: Correct.

Page 446

In reference to the gunshot to the top of the head:

Q: And is this a fatal injury?

A: Yes, it is.

Q: And is there any amount of medical intervention that would, could possibly save the life of someone sustaining that injury?

A: Highly unlikely.

Page 456:

Q: I just need some clarification. The wound to the head, did you say that was a far distance?

A: That one is an indeterminate, so it is greater than 3 feet.

Q: It is greater than 3 feet?

A: Correct.

Q: Any other questions about those wounds so far?

Q2: The wounds to the top of the head, could he have been already falling forward?

A: It is possible.

Page 472:

Q: Can you tell me how many exit wounds there were?

A: I’d say three.

Q: How many entrance wounds?

A: I don’t include the graze wound as one of these things that is in between say 1,2,3,4,5, 6.

Q: And two graze wounds?

A: That’s 8.

Q: And those again, those wounds, each of them is documented in your post-mortem examination report that I provided copies to the jurors and also is there any way that, do you have any opinion as to the order in which these gunshots were, these wounds were sustained on Michael Brown’s body?

A: From what I do, the investigation is ongoing. There is things I’m privilege to. There is things I do know and things that can be shared with you later as the process goes on.

In my opinion in terms of what I can say the wound to the hand has to occur at a time when Michael Brown is close enough to the officer for that to have happened. So depending on the circumstances that you guys hear from what I know, there is a point in time where they are in close approximation to each other at the vehicle. In my opinion I feel that’s the closest they are for it to happen from the circumstances that I know that that injury occurred. So that has to be early on in the event. In terms of the end of the event, the wound to the top of the head is going to be the last wound that he is going to receive.

So in terms of the beginning part with the thumb wound and the part at the end, those two I can feel good about saying that I know when those happened, but the ones in between, it is too difficult to say.

Q: And given the entrance and exits of the wounds that you’ve described, and I know that we’ve said there is no entrance wounds on his back?

A: Correct.

Q: Or on his buttocks?

A: Correct.

Q: Or on the back of the his legs?

A: Correct.

Q: No bullet wounds on his legs at all?

A: Correct.

Q: And then there is some wounds to the anterior portion of his torso?

A: Correct.

Q: And then the wounds to his arms are kind of like all over the joint, right?

A: Right.

Q: Any way of telling what position that body was in when the wounds were sustained?

A: No.

Q: Given that they’re arms, it just depends on where his arms were?
A: Correct.

Q: And in relation to where the gun was?

A: Correct. But I can say to sustain wounds to the chest, the chest is fixed, those with the arms it can be in a number of positions.

Page 474

Q: Does anybody else have anything they want to cover today?

Q2: Just one. He did have an entrance wound to the back of his–

A: Anatomical correction, the anatomical position, the dorsal on the back side, posterior portion of that right forearm there is a wound there.

Q: So if someone in this position and it is a gunshot wound, the gun could have been fired from behind them?

A: Correct.

Q: Someone in this position, the gunshot came from the front of them, correct?

A: Correct.

Q: Or in this position, or in this position?

A: Correct.



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