A forensic pathologist quoted in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch story about the shooting death of Michael Brown said some of her statements concerning the autopsy were taken out of context, reports the Washington Post. Judy Melinek was quoted about the volatile case in which Brown was fatally shot Aug. 9 by Darren Wilson, a Ferguson, Mo., police officer. The Post-Dispatch, focusing on St. Louis County's autopsy of Brown and an accompanying toxicology report, relied on unidentified sources with knowledge of the county's investigation of the shooting, leaked autopsy documents, and quotes from Melinek and others. The Post-Dispatch said it stands by its reporting, including Melinek's comments.
Melinek, based in San Francisco, tells the Washington Post she did not assert that a gunshot wound on Brown's hand definitively showed that he was reaching for Wilson's gun during a struggle while the officer was in a police SUV and Brown was standing at the driver's window, as the Post-Dispatch reported. Melinek says the autopsy facts could be viewed differently. “Bullet trajectory analysis is complex, and you cannot interpret autopsy reports in a vacuum,” she wrote in an e-mail. “You need the scene data and the witness statements. When a forensic expert says something 'appears to be' or is 'consistent with' the findings, that doesn't mean it is the only explanation. It means it is one possible explanation — one that fits the current forensic data. That opinion might change as other data comes to light.”