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Recording May Capture Shots Fired at Teenager

Monica Davey and Michael S. SchmidtNew York Times

FERGUSON, Mo. -- The federal authorities have received a brief video clip from a man who lives near the site where Michael Brown was killed and which, the man’s lawyer says, inadvertently captured the sounds of the gunshots fired at Brown.

The audio portion of the clip, which was first played on CNN, reveals what sounds like at least 10 gunshots - about six, a pause, and then four more. The voice of the man, who was in his bedroom in a nearby apartment recording the clip of himself for a friend, can also be heard, according to the man’s lawyer, Lopa M. Blumenthal.

The federal authorities said Tuesday that they could not verify the authenticity of the recording, but that they were investigating it along with other evidence in their inquiry into the Aug. 9 shooting death of Brown, an unarmed black teenager, by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer. A St. Louis County grand jury is also investigating the shooting, which set off protests in a city, which is two-thirds black and where most elected leaders and police officers are white.

If authenticated, the recording would provide new information about the number of shots fired that day. Previously, a federal autopsy by military coroners showed that Brown was struck six times, and a private autopsy on behalf of Brown’s family showed that he was hit at least six times.

Witnesses have told The New York Times and investigators that they saw Brown and Wilson struggling just before shots were fired, with Wilson inside his patrol car and Brown leaning in through a window. Evidence shows that the officer’s weapon went off inside the car, according to law enforcement officials. The witnesses say that Brown then fled and that Wilson got out of his car and fired at him as Brown was running away. At some point, those witnesses said, Brown turned around and was facing Wilson when the officer fired the final shots.

One of those witnesses, Michael T. Brady, a janitor who lives near the shooting scene, said in an interview that Brown was bent over when one of the shots hit him in the head. “The officer lets out three more shots at him,” Brady said. “The second one goes into his head as he was bending down.”

Blumenthal said she did not know what precisely the new recording would reveal to investigators. “What I do know happened, just from the evidence, is that there was a pause,” Blumenthal, of Blumenthal & Blumenthal, said in an interview in her small offices in north St. Louis County. “So, at some point, the shooter stopped momentarily and then resumed shooting. What the rationale or reasoning is, I have no way to know.”

Blumenthal declined to name her client, who she said met with federal officers on Monday night and was expected to again on Tuesday. She also declined to permit his image in the 12-second video clip to be made public, saying that he was trying to maintain his privacy and was already feeling nervous and overwhelmed about the extraordinary level of media attention on the case.

The video shows only the man’s image inside his room, not images of the shooting.

Blumenthal said her client did not know Brown, his family or Wilson. She said she approached him - and urged him to go to the authorities - only after his roommate, a former client of hers, showed her the clip last week in passing at a social event and did not seem to grasp the significance of it as evidence.

As for the veracity of the recording, Blumenthal, said: “I am about as sure as I can be - mainly because they had no idea what they had recorded and they had no motivation to come forward.” Blumenthal, who said she is representing the man who made the recording at no cost, added, “Our main concern was getting it to the authorities.”

Monica Davey reported from Ferguson, and Michael S. Schmidt from Washington. Frances Robles contributed reporting from St. Louis.