Michael Brown's Autopsy Is Reported Two Very Different Ways

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Court_slide_Anna_SuditIllustrated by Anna Sudit.
Earlier this morning, medical examiner Michael Baden revealed the results of a private autopsy on Michael Brown, who was shot and killed on August 9. Though the full findings of the initial autopsy conducted by the county won't be available for another couple of weeks, Dr. Baden's investigation uncovered two truths about Brown's death: There was marijuana in Brown's system at the time of death, and he was shot a minimum of six times.

Of these two findings, the number and nature of gunshot wounds is the only important information here. The point of an autopsy, after all, is to prove how a person died. That's probably why media coverage of the autopsy results from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Mashable all feature this harrowing information in their headlines.

nytPhoto: Courtesy of The New York Times.


Several news organizations, however, have opted to feature the information about Brown's marijuana use, instead. In fact, neither the New York Post nor Complex included information about Brown's gunshot wounds in its headline.

compPhoto: Courtesy of Complex.
It's surprising to see such biased headlines in the wake of the #IfTheyGunnedMeDown campaign, which shows side-by-side comparisons of the portraits news organizations would use, compared to their more proud moments. Think: your rowdiest Friday night versus your college graduation. And, as one protester asks during Baden's press conference, where is the toxicology report for the officer who shot Brown?

Those who wish to play devil's advocate could point to the often sensational headlines outlets like the Post employs. But, the situation at hand — one that, for the first time ever, required Amnesty International deployment in the U.S. — is already so sensational. Footage from Ferguson is violent, not to mention surreal. These headlines seek to make relevant to a criminal case a drug that's legal in several states — to somehow justify the unjustifiable.

A third autopsy, conducted by the Department of Justice, is forthcoming. Once all three autopsy results are gathered, we expect the legal activity surrounding the case will shift. Regardless of what the final autopsy results indicate, there's a clear disconnect between the alleged crime at hand and the way it was handled. As Baden noted in the press conference, "All of these gun shot wounds were survivable, except for the one that went through the head."

To stay updated on what's happening in #Ferguson, check out these Twitter accounts:
Liz Peinado, student advocate in St. Louis
Julie Bosman, correspondent for The New York Times
Christina Coleman, NBC anchor/reporter
Rachel Lippmann, St. Louis Public Radio