Grand Jury Hears Testimony From Brown Family Pathologist
The forensic pathologist hired by Michael Brown's family to perform a private autopsy testified Thursday before the grand jury considering whether to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in Brown's fatal shooting.
Attorneys for the family would not elaborate on what exactly Dr. Michael Baden said to the grand jury.
"He believes...that the substance of his testimony should be left to the purview of the grand jury, so in respecting the process, we won’t be able to comment on that this morning," said family attorney Benjamin Crump at a press conference Thursday.
But Crump reiterated Baden's findings and the family's belief that witness accounts and forensic evidence show Brown had his hands up when he was fatally shot by Wilson.
Attorney Anthony Gray said Baden also has updated his preliminary autopsy to reclassify one bullet re-entry wound as an additional entry point. Gray said that brings the total entry wounds to six, and the total wounds to seven.
"We are simply hopeful that whatever [his testimony] is, it would offer some insightful analysis and independent analysis for the grand jury that they can use in reaching their decision," Crump said.
Gray also said he believes that Baden's testimony was requested by the grand jurors themselves and that St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch extended the invitation.
When asked whether that move increased his faith in the grand jury process, given that Gray and the Brown family have said it lacks transparency, Gray said his trust in the system is "at the same level."
"I could call it good will and, to some degree, I could see it that way, but it’s also a duty and obligation that's attached to it as well, and we are grateful that he followed the duty and his obligation in that he did give him an opportunity to testify," he said.
The family attorneys had no further information as to when the grand jury would make its decision, which McCulloch said would happen in mid- to late-November. But given the fact that Baden had been called, Gray said he believes the prosecutor is "reaching the end of the road as it relates to witnesses."
"Deliberations are funny," he said. "Once a grand jury receives a charge to deliberate, they can deliberate for five minutes, five days, five weeks. It really is an unknown variable and we cannot predict when they will come back."
Gray says the family is expected to get some advance notice before McCulloch announces the grand jury decision to the public, but he did not know how much that would be.
Responding to Nixon
In the meantime, the family attorneys said the family wanted to echo Missouri Governor Jay Nixon's call earlier this week for supporters to stay peaceful.
"We do not condone any acts of rioting, looting or violence and we encourage all those supporting justice for Mike Brown to remain vigilant yet peaceful, calm and dignified, as we await and after we receive the announcement of the grand jury decision," Gray said.
However, Gray said law enforcement were not "equally condemned by the governor" in his call for a zero tolerance to violence. Gray said the family hopes law enforcement will use restraint in dealing with demonstrators.
"There have been too many reports of excessive behavior and agitation by police officers, which have resulted in the outburst of the kind that the governor described by otherwise peaceful demonstrators," he said. "Prior to many uncivilized behaviors by demonstrators, they were simply exercising their first amendment rights during which time they became victims of assault rifles being pointed in their face, being manhandled, being tear-gassed, hit by rubber bullets, falsely arrested...These acts of violence impacted innocent men women and children simply exercising their rights."
Attorney Crump said these kinds of interactions have led to "a burning desire for civility, transparency and equal protection." And Gray said peace is needed "for healing and positive dialogue going forward."