Feds order a third autopsy of Michael Brown

Lauren Williams

The federal government has ordered a third autopsy of Michael Brown, according to a statement from Justice Department spokesperson Brian Fallon:

Due to the extraordinary circumstances involved in this case and at the request of the Brown family, Attorney General Holder has instructed Justice Department officials to arrange for an additional autopsy to be performed by a federal medical examiner. This independent examination will take place as soon as possible. Even after it is complete, Justice Department officials still plan to take the state-performed autopsy into account in the course of their investigation.

The St. Louis County medical examiner performed the first autopsy. The only detail the county released was that Brown died of gunshot wounds, which is probably the one fact about his death that is not a mystery. It is still unclear how many gunshot wounds Brown had, where they are located, and from what range the gun was fired.

The DOJ has already opened a civil rights investigation into the shooting death of Brown, who was unarmed when Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson shot him on August 9. The feds have previously taken issue with the local investigation. An unnamed law enforcement source told NBC News that the DOJ urged Ferguson police not to release a surveillance tape that shows a man, allegedly Brown, stealing cigars and pushing a clerk right before the shooting. Reportedly, the DOJ feared it would increase community anger. Local police released the tape on Friday. And here's what's been happening in the streets of Ferguson since.

Correction: This story initially said that the federal autopsy would be the second autopsy of Michael Brown. In fact, it's the third. Brown's family also had an autopsy done. Thanks to MSNBC's Chris Hayes for pointing this out.

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