This is a series of posts where I plan to go through all 4799 pages of transcripts before the Grand Jury in the Darren Wilson case, in order to figure out 1) should he have been indicted, and 2) is he guilty. Some background. This is the post introducing the series and giving you many images that have been released. This earlier piece on Zimmerman also gives you a good primer on the law of self-defense in general, at least in Florida, while this piece discusses how Missouri law deals with self-defense and the unique right of a cop to use force to stop a fleeing suspect (in some cases), and this piece discusses (albeit briefly) the standard for indictment. I am not going to explain these points of law twice, so if you are confused, go back and read those.
This post will be updated to link to other posts in the series without notation that it has been changed.
In Part 1, we reviewed to opening statement by the Prosecuting Attorney, Bob McColloch, and introducing the two attorneys who would be running the show for the most part from then on: Kathi Alizadeh and Shelia Whirley.
Now before I begin, let me link you to a new piece of information. I normally embed video, but ABC news has a very bad habit of making videos auto-start, which is just annoying. But George Stephanopoulos gave what I considered to be a pretty good interview of Darren Wilson which includes an account of his version of events and if you go here you can watch it. Now, as you know I am trying to figure out the answer to two questions: 1) did Wilson deserve to be indicted and 2) did he commit the crime? Obviously, this is information that arose after the decision not to indict came down, so it won’t help us with the first question, but it might illuminate the second. That being said, while he comes off as a pretty credible guy I am not going to put primary credit on his statements. I am more interested in what the forensics and third party witnesses say, than what he said. Still, I think he really helped himself with that interview.
Finally, it is interesting that I am not sure that Wilson is aware, even now, that Brown was injured when he fired the first shot as has been claimed. From reports, my understanding is that the medical examiner’s theory is that Brown was wounded when fighting over the gun. But Wilson doesn’t note that.
In addition to that, a little housekeeping before I dive back into the Grand Jury testimony. As I was reading today’s batch, it became clear that there was a lot of evidence I was not seeing, such as entire autopsies, which seemed to be important. So I hunted around and found another treasure trove of official evidence from this case. I will embed them, as needed, when talking about the transcript, but here’s the links to them, as designated by the AP writer:
Since then, I have found even more documents, but I will deal with them most likely in the next post.
Anyway, resuming the review of the transcript, we are in the middle of the second pdf I scanned, which I will embed below the fold just to make things easy for you:
I am at page 28 of that pdf. This is also the beginning of volume 3 in the actual designation of the transcripts. So if you are following along at home or fact-checking me, you have two ways to look for my citations.
It begins with housekeeping, and telling them they would have two more witnesses. I believe this is the afternoon of the same day we left off in. They were going to have some unidentified detective and the medical examiner who performed the autopsy. The medical examiner had a tight schedule and wouldn’t be there until later, so the plan was if they were not done, they would stop the detective, let the medical examiner testify, and then resume the detective’s testimony if necessary. As I told you, this going to read somewhat like a live blog, so we will see how it shakes out as I read it. So first this unidentified detective, which I shall call:
Crime Scene Detective: He says he has been a police officer for 33 years, worked for the St. Louis Co. PD for 22 years, and has been a crime scene detective for 14 years. And he is actually an instructor, board certified at the highest levels, which suggests he is actually pretty authoritative at his job. Hopefully, this means we will get some real analysis, where in the last part these people seemed to be more evidence-gatherers setting the stage.
He tells about getting the call that there had been an officer involved shooting at about 1 p.m. getting his investigatory van and arriving at Christian Northwest Hospital 2:20 p.m. Basically he is meeting with an unnamed detective, Wilson, the assistant chief of Ferguson police, and an attorney for the Fraternal Order of Police, which lines up with Wilson’s interview I just shared with you, where he said he called the FOP pretty quickly after the incident.
There are a lot of spaces here, where information was plainly redacted, making it difficult the follow the conversation, but we shall see if we can muddle through. He explained his role to be the following:
I was to document visible injuries or complaint sites of injury on Darren Wilson. We were to document his clothing. I was going to seize his clothing and also the weapon that he carried that day.
At some point in time I was also tasked with the processing of the Ferguson police vehicle, which was a fully marked Tahoe.
I read the term “fully marked” as referring to the fact that it is a conspicuously marked police car. And I read earlier that the SUB was a Chevy Tahoe and Suburban. This officer seems to be clear on what kind of car it is.
So this was basically the detective who took all the pictures of Wilson at the hospital. So my hope for analysis was dashed. He notes that Wilson didn’t say he was cut and they captured all the places Wilson was wounded. Wilson didn’t take a severe beating, but the issue wasn’t like in the Zimmerman case where the deadly force was used to end a beating that may have qualified as aggravated assault. The deadly force was to avoid a situation where he feared being overpowered and having his gun taken from him, or so his defense theory goes.
And it highlights that there is a critical difference between those situations. In the first, involving Zimmerman, the gun was concealed. It probably never occurred to Trayvon Martin that George Zimmerman might be armed until he pulled out his gun and shot him. By contrast, like most cops, Wilson open carried and everyone knows they open carry. And it highlights one of the downsides of open carry: if a person physically attacks you, you have to be more worried that they are going to take your gun, making it more likely that if you get in a fight, you will have to shoot. But on the other hand, a gun open carried usually prevents people from attacking you with their fists in the first place.
Anyway, the witness spent some time discussing the photographs. This is mostly a process lawyers call “authentication” which in this case involves is proving it is what you figure it is when you look at it.
He talks about Wilson’s clothes. There was a reddish stain on Wilson’s upper left thing of his pants which Wilson said was blood. But he didn’t seize his pants right away because he didn’t have anything else to wear. He also didn’t ask Wilson what happened. He talked about working out how to get a change of clothes so Wilson could surrender his pants.
On page 56 of the pdf (Vol. 3, p. 30), they note that his sidearm was in a bag but it wasn’t sealed. Which seems like a mistake, but we shall see. It is identified as a Sig Saur, which is a reasonably popular brand of firearm. I should tell you, dear reader, that while I have supported the Second Amendment all my life, I wasn’t much of a practitioner until relatively recently when I had to deal with a stalker situation. Even now, I only have a very small number of weapons and no one would mistake me for being an expert on firearms. But I know some basic principles that apply to all handguns, which raises me to the level of “not completely clueless.” And frankly I know a few “gun nerds” that I might consult if it becomes important. Right now, you don’t have to know much about guns to understand what we are seeing and hearing.
There is an oddity on the same page, where the detective talks about how he didn’t “download” the gun and he was told that Wilson had already “downloaded” it, which is a weird thing to say about a gun. He explains what that term means in this context as follows:
When you download a semiautomatic weapon for our terminology, that means that the magazine is removed, all rounds that are in the magazine and whatever is chambered is removed and the slide is locked back. That's a safe way to store a weapon.
(Vol 3, p. 31; pdf p. 56). And he’s right, except that is a damn weird term to use for it. And some explanation for why it wasn’t sealed was given: so that he could take it out and photograph it. But he was still critical of that decision—in the sense that he said it was not the way he usually did that. He also said that he normally would have gotten the pants immediately. He also mentions red stains (blood I suspect) on the gun itself, describing photographs:
Q Now, also not clearly visible on the screen, but again, we will pass these around, there is, there is something right there?
A There's a red stain right here. And also in this area on the slide.
Q All right. Were there any other red stains that you found anywhere else on the gun?
A Yes, they're on the slide also.
I looked back over the pictures in the introductory post and I see some slight discoloration, but I am not sure it is what he is talking about. It is already obvious that not all the evidence has been given out, you have to wonder. In any case, he says it was swabbed. No word yet what the swabbing showed. The jurors asked, paraphrase, “well, did you fingerprint the gun?” And he presented it as a choice between the two:
If you have a violent event like that, you have to make a decision whether you are concerned about hopefully getting a DNA profile or the possibility of retrieving latent fingerprint evidence.
(Vol 3, p. 42; pdf p. 68). And further, he felt that fingerprinting was unlikely to yield good results, saying on page 69 in the pdf (Vol. 3, p. 43): “you're not going to have fine ridge detail during a violent encounter.” If I understand correctly, he means that you’re at best going to get a smudged fingerprint, which is useless. This lines up with my life experience. I have had things stolen from me, and playing “armchair detective” I posited to the police that there might be fingerprints at this place or that and the police explained to me that people think that good fingerprints are left much more often than they really are. Fingerprints are useful, to a degree, but not as useful as a million detective shows would make you think. The witness also explains more about how it is a choice between gathering DNA and gathering fingerprints:
Once that decision is made and you swab, then you're going to have to swab those areas that were described earlier. If there was fingerprint evidence, you are going to be swabbing through them, so that's why you need to make a decision whether you want to process this for fingerprints or do you want to process this for DNA.
(Vol 3, p. 44; pdf p. 70). That seems to make sense to me. He is asked more about the gun, and it is a Sig Sauer P229, and .40 caliber. I linked to the company’s website. In writing this, I did call my friend John Hoge and asked him about Wilson’s televised story, where he claimed that the gun didn’t go off because Brown was holding it. I wanted to know if that was possible. He said there are two ways Brown could have caused that to happen. The first is that some of his skin might have kept the hammer from striking the bullet, physically. It would have pinched but most likely not enough to make him let go of the gun. The second is that Brown might have pushed back the slide just enough that the “disconnecter” would not allow it to fire. So, yes, according to him his story was consistent with the operation of the gun. That doesn’t necessarily mean he is telling the truth, either. But if, for instance, it turned out that there was no way for a hand on top of the gun to prevent it from firing, that would punch a massive hole in Wilson’s story and suggest he was lying.
So all in all, at this point it was more stage-setting and authentication of photographs and other evidence. But not much analysis.
At that point the doctor had arrived, and they cut it short, but clearly indicated they would have him back another day. So we start with a new witness, I am going to call:
Assistant Medical Examiner: He goes on about his education, and how autopsies—his chief job—are done. One nuance is that he is not the toxicologist, but he will gather fluids to be tested by the toxicologist. He also often has a cop there to document what he is doing, especially in homicides.
The examination was the day after the shooting. Now as I have said, all the names are redacted, but it appears that he spoke to the earlier “Medical Legal Investigator” I discussed in the last post to give him some idea what to look for. Here’s the exchange that makes me think that:
Q Okay. Now, in this particular case, this autopsy performed on Michael Brown, what information did you have from [redacted] that was something that you considered prior to beginning the autopsy?
A Um, when I was contacted by [redacted] he called me on my personal cell phone to let me know what particular cases came in on his shift and he informed me of the cases that came on his shift, and one of the cases was Mr. Michael Brown.
(Vol 3, p. 59; pdf p. 85). Since the man identified as “Medical Legal Advisor” said it came in on his shift and his job was to communicate with the person who actually does the autopsy, it seems reasonable to believe that is the redacted name. But it really makes you wish they had used some kind of formal nomenclature system, instead of just redacting names.
Whoever it is, they stress that the information was very general—there was an officer-involved shooting, there was maybe a struggle, and that is about it. He had no reports to review as he did the autopsy. I think the idea they are trying to get across is that what he said was based on what the body told him, almost exclusively.
Brown weighs exactly 289 lbs, with clothing and 77 inches tall or 6 foot 5 inches. (Vol 3, p. 95; pdf p. 121). The utter lack of injuries on the back of the torso, or on the back of the legs or the buttocks is noted on page 125 of the pdf (Vol. 3, p. 99). And in future references this explanation of how they talk about the body might be useful:
So what that means is, I will stand up so you guys can see. So the normal anatomical position is like this. So when I'm saying medial, medial is in reference to, you know, draw an imaginary line down the middle of that particular extremity, medial is to the inside, lateral is going to be to the outside of that imaginary line.
Ventral, as we have already discussed before, is talking about the front part of that particular extremity or whatever we are looking at. It is also synonymous with anterior, front or whatnot.
When I say medial ventral, or right forearm, so talking about something that is off the midline inside, which makes it medial. Ventral meaning it is on the front and depicting a particular area which is the right forearm. So that's the terminology. So, and we're talking about this wound right here.
(Vol 3, pp. 101-102; pdf p. 127-28). The key to understanding the passage is guessing how he looked when he stood up. That would appear to be identical to the model diagram they use. You saw an example from the private autopsy in the first post in the series, and just to make your life easier, here it is again.
This is not a very natural position for a person, however. It is just a frame of reference so we all are talking about the same thing.
So a lot of this is just jargon for me to be able to say where it actually is on the body in terms of reference points. So with all of my gunshot injuries, I like to have two reference points.
One of them is a fixed point, so in this particular situation, I find something is going to be the right elbow and I'm going to say how far above or down it is to be able to specify, you know, the upper dimension or the lower dimension, which is kind of just your natural body axis.
So in this particular situation this wound is 15 centimeters below this right elbow, and then you want to be able to say where in the midline that is and that lets me know medial or lateral.
So in this particular situation, this particular wound is 5 centimeters to the left of the anterior midline of the right forearm.
So when I say left, it is from my left, not from you looking at me.
Q From the body's left?
A From the body's left.
(Vol 3, pp. 102-103; pdf p. 128-29). He also talks about the significance of stippling and “soot.” Stippling is from the primer in a bullet, and so if you see that, the bullet was fired, then it means it was up to three feet away, depending on the gun, the bullet, etc. Soot, meanwhile, refers to burnt gunpowder and if that is present on the body, it means the bullet was fired. That can be up to a foot and a half.
With some terminology under our belt, I will backtrack a little and quote this passage talking about a specific wound.
So once I'm familiar with this as an exit wound, eventually I'm going to want to try to find out where the entrance wound is.
So we know where we are on the arm, on the right arm, we are on the inside portion of the arm and we are off medially of that midline. So this is the exit wound of that right forearm.
(Vol 3, p. 105; pdf p. 130). So in that diagram, which was made by a different person, we see a wound on the inside of the arm. And if you rewind a little, he is calling this Wound #9. That would be on the right forearm. And if you experiment a little you can see that you can turn that spot in a large variety of directions. Literally mark the spot on your arm with a marker and then see how you can make that spot face many different directions. You can make it face in front of you, or behind you. The most natural position is to have it facing inward and slightly behind you, but that doesn’t tell you where it was when the bullet came out. I mean I am no forensic pathologist, but that is common sense.
Next we have what he calls Wound #7 and he goes through various factors to determine that it was another exit wound. It’s in the upper arm, but it is not clear to me yet where that might correspond to that other examiner’s drawing. Hopefully we will straighten it out when I pick up the autopsy.
Next is Wound #11, which is the very famous thumb wound. He says it is a graze wound. And there is soot in the wound, meaning it was shot at very close range. Interesting point is he did not think Brown’s hand was over the barrel. He explains that this would be a contact wound, which would look different in various ways. So his hand was close, the thumb was grazed, but his thumb was not over the barrel, according to him.
Next we have Wound #10. He describes this as being in the right bicep. So that might be—and I am not committing to this—the injury on his right upper arm, but closer to his elbow, which would make Wound #7 the one closer to the shoulder. But I could be wrong. He describes it as a grazing wound. He can’t figure out which direction it moved in.
Next we have Wound #6, which throws my reliance on the diagram to heck because it is also in the bicep region. That makes me suspect that Wound #10 was ignored in the drawing as a grazing wound. We’ll sort it out eventually. He decides that #6 is an entrance wound. And eventually he does connect it to Wound #7, and does indicate as I suspected that #7 is closer to the armpit. So it started lower on the arm and tunneled through to upper arm. It went upward, and backward. (Vol 3, p. 131; pdf p. 157).
It is tempting to say that, just observing the laws of physics, that it couldn’t have been shot from the back of a standing man. Try as you will and it is impossible to rotate your arm, so that makes a straight line. If you assume Wilson was standing when he shot, and Brown was standing, too, then it suggests he was probably facing him, with his arm slightly raised. And of course there is no sign of soot or stippling, so they can only say the shot was from more than 3 feet away. But the one caution is that the body can change the trajectory of a bullet.
Next we have Wound #8. He says it is on the dorsal part of the arm, which you might remember means it is the in the back of that drawing. Like it is the top of my arm as I write on my computer. He explains that this is the entrance wound paired with Wound #9 as the exit.
Next, Wound #4. As he said, he goes in order of how significant he thinks the wound is likely to be in terms of shortening your life. So if you have 2 wounds, one to the head, and one to your pinky finger, he is going to start with the head wound. This is on the right, front chest. And it is an entrance wound. No soot, so distance can’t be determined. There is no exit wound in this case—the bullet stayed in the body. He notes it was a survivable wound. And we get a crucial question:
Q (By Ms. Alizadeh) Could someone who have sustained this type of injury, would they be immediately disabled?
A No, they would not.
Q So they could continue to stand?
Q They could be mobile for a while?
(Vol 3, p. 144; pdf p. 170). The bullet did travel downward in the body but it also struck bone, so it might have been influenced by that. Still a downward trajectory is consistent with leaning forward, as in running.
Wound #5 is also in the right chest, also an entrance wound, also no soot, no stippling. Also, another downward trajectory. Also again, the wound would kill him if it wasn’t attended to, but not right away. It wouldn’t prevent him from being on his feet.
Wound #3 is an exit wound in the right jaw. No stippling, no soot, but you don’t expect that with an exit wound. Unclear what the entrance was.
Wound #2, and he makes it clear that all of these descriptions match with the autopsy report. Wound on the forehead, downward trajectory. No stippling, no soot. Then he describes in somewhat nauseating detail the path of the bullet. It basically tunneled just below the surface of his skin on his face and it went through his eye. And then it is able to go through the more fleshy area under the eye and exit the jaw—in other words, it seems to connect to Wound #3. And again, they asked if this would knock the person off their feet, etc. and he said it wouldn’t, but it would blind Brown in that eye.
And they ask a question I was wondering about:
MS. WHIRLEY: Shirley Whirley. Would the combination, you said you can't talk about the sequence of the shots which occurred first, but the combination of the shots that we've seen before the fatal shot, it still would not render this person disabled.
In other words, he can’t be sure which shot hit where, when, for the most part. But all of the wounds up until now wouldn’t have knocked Brown off his feet.
Also he noted that there were abrasions to the front of his face and explained what it told him:
Q [unnamed juror] You talked about the abrasions, anything that you conclude from the abrasions, how they occurred?
A Well, an abrasion, all that is to me is that particular part of your body came in contact with another force. So to get an abrasion, I fell right now, I hit my head right there, I could scrape off skin. I fell down on the ground and collapsed on the ground that could cause those abrasions.
From the way he's positioned where he's found after he's rendered disabled, his face is in contact with the ground and that's consistent with that position.
Q There need to be forward motion on that face to scrape it like that.
A You would need some sliding.
Q Some sliding
A For it to rub off. You need a frictional force. You can't just plop straight down, plop straight down and cause more bleeding, you get more contusions from things just stopping and don't slide. When things slide with friction, that's when it gets rubbed off, and that's when you get your frictions.
(Vol 3, p. 159-60; pdf p. 185-86). And if you aren’t sure how he reads that, a juror’s question clarified that:
Next is Wound #1, right at the top of his head, really dead center at the top, just about. And yes, it is an entrance wound. No exit wound, they eventually recovered the bullet. It passed through a good bit of his brain. And unlike the previously-mentioned wound, this would cause Brown to be immediately incapacitated. He wouldn’t be able to stand, he wouldn’t remain conscious, it was a fatal injury and there was almost zero chance of any medical intervention saving him.
They go on clarifying how survivable the prior wounds were. Pretty much Brown wouldn’t have had a chance of surviving them unless he was shot in a hospital with a doctor right there. He also stated it was possible that Brown was already falling forward at the moment he was shot on the top of his head. And he says this about mobility following the other wounds:
But you get hit here in the chest, you are going to have some time to be able to move around and it is depending on a variety of factors. How quickly you use blood. The main thing that will make you collapse is, once you block off that blood return, you've got maybe like 10 to 15 seconds of reserve of oxygen going to your brain before you pass out.
So when you reach that critical level, each person is going to have a different critical level with body masses, being different sizes, people have different kind of levels of blood reserve, different levels of volume.
So someone smaller or bigger maybe last a little bit longer. Also the activity that you are doing before is also going to impact. Say, for instance, if you have been running and your heart was going really, really fast, you're going to pump blood out quicker as oppose to someone really calm, just kind of sitting there, you are not going to bleed as fast. So all of these factors play a role in determining how quickly you are going to be responsive or immobile.
(Vol 3, p. 181-82; pdf p. 207-08). And that is about it. That ends that volume, but not that file. It took a little longer, because some of it was pretty dense.
I think also it is important to actually read the autopsy, early, so I will read that before continuing into Volume 4. The embed of that document is here:
And honestly, having read it, I didn’t see anything leap out that wasn’t pretty well understood from the testimony. I am disappointed they didn’t give me a nice little diagram but I think I have a pretty good understanding of what he found.
He didn’t provide very much analysis, but gives us a very specific pattern of his wounds. They tell a story, and that story has to be checked against what the autopsy tells us.
My wife and I have lost our jobs due to the harassment of convicted terrorist (and adjudicated pedophile) Brett Kimberlin, including an attempt to get us killed and to frame me for a crime carrying a sentence of up to ten years. I know that claim sounds fantastic, but if you read starting here, you will see absolute proof of these claims using documentary and video evidence. If you would like to help in the fight to hold Mr. Kimberlin accountable, please hit the donation link on the right. And thank you.
Follow me at Twitter @aaronworthing, mostly for snark and site updates. And you can purchase my book (or borrow it for free if you have Amazon Prime), Archangel: A Novel of Alternate, Recent History here. And you can read a little more about my novel, here.
I have accused some people, particularly Brett Kimberlin, of reprehensible conduct. In some cases, the conduct is even criminal. In all cases, the only justice I want is through the appropriate legal process—such as the criminal justice system. I do not want to see vigilante violence against any person or any threat of such violence. This kind of conduct is not only morally wrong, but it is counter-productive.
In the particular case of Brett Kimberlin, I do not want you to even contact him. Do not call him. Do not write him a letter. Do not write him an email. Do not text-message him. Do not engage in any kind of directed communication. I say this in part because under Maryland law, that can quickly become harassment and I don’t want that to happen to him.
And for that matter, don’t go on his property. Don’t sneak around and try to photograph him. Frankly try not to even be within his field of vision. Your behavior could quickly cross the line into harassment in that way too (not to mention trespass and other concerns).
And do not contact his organizations, either. And most of all, leave his family alone.
The only exception to all that is that if you are reporting on this, there is of course nothing wrong with contacting him for things like his official response to any stories you might report. And even then if he tells you to stop contacting him, obey that request. That this is a key element in making out a harassment claim under Maryland law—that a person asks you to stop and you refuse.
And let me say something else. In my heart of hearts, I don’t believe that any person supporting me has done any of the above. But if any of you have, stop it, and if you haven’t don’t start.
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