18 Aug 2014

Ferguson: Michael Brown ‘shot six times’ by police

Lawyers for the family of Missouri teenager Michael Brown say a private autopsy shows he was shot at least six times.

Michael Brown, the unarmed black 18-year-old killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, was shot at least six times, including twice in the head, said a preliminary private autopsy which was requested by Mr Brown’s family, The New York Times reported.

The report, based on an examination by Dr Michael Boden, emerged before another night of protest and clashes with police, in which gunfire was heard by witnesses and police used teargas (see below right) and gas canisters to disperse the crowds.

In the early hours of Monday, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon signed an executive order to send the national guard into Ferguson in response the escalating violence.

Hundreds of protesters, including young children, fled to safety after police wearing gas masks and body armor fired canisters of smoke to disperse them hours ahead of the second planned midnight curfew.

A crowd of about 400 appeared to be marching peacefully, and included numerous families with children, when police used smoke canisters to disperse them.

“The smoke bombs were completely unprovoked,” said Anthony Ellis, 45. “It (the protest) was led by kids on bikes. Next you know, they’re saying, ‘Go home, Go home!'”

However Missouri Highway Patrol said that “aggressors” were trying to infiltrate a law enforcement command post and that armoured vehicles were deployed to ensure public safety.

“We ordered them back. We ordered them back again. After several attempts, we utilised the smoke to disperse these individuals,” said Missouri Highway Patrol Corporal Justin Wheetley.

The fatal shooting of Brown on 9 August has sparked a huge groundswell of anger in the local community. It emerged that he was shot by police officer Darren Wilson, but the circumstances surrounding the shooting remain disputed: police say the shooting took place after Brown reached into a patrol car and struggled with Officer Wilson for his gun; Dorian Johnson, a 22-year-old friend of Brown’s and at least one other witness said that Officer Wilson tried to grab Brown through the window, and that the teenager had his hands in the air, as a sign of surrender, when he was shot several times.

Earlier on Sunday, US Attorney General Eric Holder ordered a federal autopsy of Brown’s body, in an attempt to assure the family and community there would be a thorough investigation into a death that has sparked days of racially charged protests.