Judy Melinek, one of the forensic experts who was quoted by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Tuesday about the Michael Brown autopsy report, is taking issue with how the newspaper portrayed her comments.
The key piece of Melinek’s analysis, according to the Post-Dispatch’s original report, was that the report of Brown’s autopsy “supports the fact that this guy is reaching for the gun, if he has gunpowder particulate material in the wound. If he has his hand near the gun when it goes off, he’s going for the officer’s gun.”
That would be consistent with Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson’s version of events, as reported by the New York Times and others. Melinek was also paraphrased by the newspaper saying that the autopsy was inconsistent with witness accounts of Brown having his hands up in surrender when he was shot by Wilson.
But Melinek told MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell on Wednesday that her comments had been taken “out of context” and that she believed the findings could be explained by other scenarios as well.
“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,” she said. “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.”
She and O’Donnell then walked through a variety of alternative situations in which the gunshot residue found on Brown’s hand — the key finding that suggested Brown had been reaching for Wilson’s gun — could have gotten there.
“I’m not saying that Brown going for the gun is the only explanation. I’m saying the officer said he was going for the gun and the right thumb wound supports that,” Melinek. “I have limited information. It could also be consistent with other scenarios. That’s the important thing. That’s why the witnesses need to speak to the grand jury and the grand jury needs to hear all the unbiased testimony and compare those statements to the physical evidence.”