ST. LOUIS - A former policeman turned college professor is closely watching the case of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old who was fatally shot by a Ferguson policeman even though he was unarmed.
"I worked South Central Los Angeles in the early 80s when we were having 900, 1,000 murders per year," said David Klinger.
Klinger is an assistant professor of criminology at Missouri St. Louis. The author of Into the Kill Zone, Klinger is considered an expert on police shootings after interviewing hundreds of officers who have opened fire while on duty.
"I've interviewed about 300 police officers across the country who have been involved in shootings," said Klinger. "You can't generalize and say this is how officers come to make the choice to pull the trigger, because circumstances are often different."
Regarding the Michael Brown fatal shooting, witnesses have said Brown had his hands up when a Ferguson policeman fired the fatal shots. Klinger says the autopsy should reveal a lot about how Michael Brown died, especially gunshot wounds that might indicate whether his hands were up.
"There's a claim that the hands were up. And if it turns out that bullets that struck the suspect's arms actually went into this part of the forearm that would be suggestive that arms were not up. If there are legitimate eyewitness statements that are being given to the police that say that the suspect's hands were up, that would be highly problematic," said Klinger.
Public patience for a thorough investigation is essential said Klinger, along with transparency and communicating with a community anxious for answers.
"I think it's vitally important," said Klinger, "but what people need to understand is that there's a natural timeline. Physical evidence is collected. Witnesses are identified. Statements are gathered from these witnesses.
"The autopsy, as I mentioned, is going to be conducted; and so it takes a while for all of this information to be gathered together. The investigation should be done as thoroughly, and competently and as professionally as possible and my knowledge of the St. Louis County homicide unit is they have some really squared away people who know how to do these kinds of investigations, so my belief is they're going to do a thorough investigation."