The official autopsy of Michael Brown leaked Wednesday. It strongly suggests that there was an altercation between Brown and Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson before the 18-year-old man was shot dead on August 9. The autopsy also revealed that Brown had been using marijuana, and had enough THC in his system to trigger hallucinations.
The Justice Department is angry — with the leak.
The U.S. Department of Justice condemned the leaks Wednesday as “irresponsible and highly troubling” and said, “There seems to be an inappropriate effort to influence public opinion about this case.”
That’s rich coming from a Justice Department that bigfooted its way into Ferguson with the express intent to impact public opinion, after the media did its best/worst to turn what might have been an ordinary if tragic police shooting incident into a nationwide race case.
Supposing the leaker does want to influence public opinion, why might that be the case? Could it be because the rioters who menaced Ferguson for weeks after the shooting continue to demand that Wilson not only be indicted, but convicted, no matter what the facts say? Could the leak be an attempt to start slowly draining the story’s controversy away? Could it be because the leaker is aware that the grand jury’s failure to indict Wilson, if that’s what happens, could trigger a whole new round of riots and violence if it comes without some warning?
Here’s what we’re getting, in what looks like an effort to start pulling some of the rage out of the situation ahead of any grand jury decision.
The New York Times reported that investigators found Brown’s blood on Wilson’s gun, on the interior door panel of Wilson’s car and on Wilson’s uniform.
The Washington Post reported that several black witnesses had provided details in secret grand jury testimony that supported Wilson’s account.
(Those witnesses will not reveal their names now, out of fear of reprisal.)
And the official autopsy report, obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, showed a gunshot wound to Brown’s hand that appeared to be from close range. That seemed to support the officer’s account that there was a struggle for his gun inside his patrol car.
The Justice Department, though, seems to want riots.
A Justice Department spokeswoman responded in a statement to the Los Angeles Times: “The department considers the selective release of information in this investigation to be irresponsible and highly troubling. Since the release of the convenience-store footage, there seems to be an inappropriate effort to influence public opinion about this case.”
The reference to the convenience-store footage alluded to a video released by Ferguson police on the same day they disclosed Wilson’s identity. The video showed Brown apparently intimidating a store clerk shortly before the shooting.
And that video destroyed the image that Brown’s family and friends and the media had carefully crafted, of a gentle giant kid who was just getting ready to go to college. That video shed light on his real life, which included petty theft, gang wannabe behavior, and drug use.
It was relevant, both as to Brown’s character and behavior and what might have been his motivation to attack Officer Wilson.
And the United States Department of Justice is still upset that the American people know about it.