“What happens sometimes is when you get interviewed and you have a long conversation with a journalist, they’re going to take things out of context,” Judy Melinek, a forensic pathologist in San Francisco, told MSNBC on Wednesday evening. “I made it very clear that we only have partial information here. We don’t have the scene information. We don’t have the police investigation. We don’t have all the witness statements. And you can’t interpret autopsy findings in a vacuum.”
According to the Post-Dispatch, Melinek said that the report indicates that Brown was first shot at close range, and that the initial close-range shot, which hit Brown’s thumb, could indicate the teenager was reaching for Wilson’s gun. The newspaper quoted Melinek as saying that the autopsy “supports the fact that this guy is reaching for the gun if he has gunpowder particulate material in the wound.”
Melinek also told the Post-Dispatch that the autopsy did not support eyewitness reports that Brown was shot while running away from Wilson or with his hands up, due to the apparent trajectory of the bullets. This contradicts the statements of multiple eyewitnesses to the shooting, who say that after a scuffle between the two by Wilson’s police car, Brown ran, and then turned and put his hands up before he was shot.
Autopsies don’t tell the full story
In her later interview with MSNBC, Melinek acknowledged that an autopsy report wouldn’t provide any information for the (at least) six bullets that missed Brown during the shooting, some of which could have been fired while Brown was running away or holding his hands up. Those kinds of details would need to be filled by other sources from a broader investigation.