Video: Columbus Police address "speculation" surrounding Outlaws Saloon brawl
The family of the man who was fatally wounded last month during a brawl outside Outlaws Saloon has hired an attorney, and she said Wednesday an independent autopsy that provided “a more thorough analysis” revealed findings different from those the police presented.
Katonga Wright said she was hired by Marquis Brown’s family to assure that whoever is responsible for his death is brought to justice.
“From our standpoint, we’ll be looking at who’s liable for his death,” she said. “We’re investigating to determine whether or not there is any liability on the fault of the individual or individuals responsible for this or the business where this particular incident occurred at.”
Columbus Police Maj. Gil Slouchick said they are still investigating how Brown was fatally injured Jan. 31 during a large fight in the parking lot of the 6499 Veterans Parkway bar.
Authorities said they were called to the scene around 3 a.m. and found Brown unresponsive and at least 40 potential witnesses.
Brown, a Phenix City father of two young girls, was rushed to the Midtown Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead of blunt-force trauma to the head, said Muscogee County Deputy Chief Coroner Freeman Worley.
Brown’s body underwent an autopsy at the Georgia Bureau of Investigations crime lab in Decatur.
Wright made an open records request to receive the autopsy report, hoping that it would shed light on a lot of unanswered questions. She said the family is still waiting for the official report, which is typically issued up to 90 days after the testing has been completed.
Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan said families will occasionally request an autopsy independent from the GBI crime lab, but that normally happens when the agency refuses to conduct one.
“I think it was a very smart idea for this family to have an independent autopsy done, and that does happen occasionally,” the coroner said.
The only details the family has received concerning the initial autopsy were the ones authorities released to the media Friday morning.
In that release, police said a detective handling the case attended the autopsy, where he learned the following:
- Brown’s head injury was ruled to be the type of wound that you would receive from your head striking a large, immovable flat object. This was determined by the type of external wound as well as the internal injuries to the front of Brown’s brain.
- There was no physical evidence that Brown was ever struck by a flashlight or any other metal object.
- There was no physical evidence that Brown was ever kicked or struck in the head.
- There was no physical evidence that Brown was ever choked or strangled.
Because those preliminary findings conflicted with the widespread account of Brown being struck with a flashlight, the family felt it was necessary to request that his body undergo an independent autopsy, Wright said.
“Typically the first eye-witness statements initially after an incident like this are more accurate, and the further we are in time, as stories change, that information becomes less reliable,” she said. “We were very interested in getting a second opinion for that reason.”
Wright said an experienced forensic pathologist conducted a “more thorough analysis” than the pathologist who examined the first autopsy. That second physician determined that the findings in the second autopsy differed from those police presented in the release, she stated.
“There were just some steps that had not been taken as far as looking at the evidence,” Wright said.
She said the findings from the second report were more consistent with the account that Brown was struck with a flashlight.
“It appears that the results of the second autopsy are more consistent with blunt-force trauma of that nature versus just a fall on a flat surface,” she said. “We know that if he did fall, it’s definitely not a flat-surface fall.”
The attorney declined to give further information about those findings until she has had an opportunity to review both official autopsy reports.
“As we have further development, we’ll come forward with some additional information, but right now we don’t want to rush anything,” Wright said.
Police Capt. Gordon Griswould confirmed that Wright informed a detective about the independent autopsy. He declined to comment on the preliminary report of the second autopsy, stating he hasn’t reviewed it himself or discussed it with the attorney.
Anyone with information or video concerning Brown’s death is encouraged to call Cpl. David Stokes at 706-225-4242 or the Robbery/Assault Unit at 706-653-3400.
— Sarah is a crime & safety reporter at The Ledger-Enquirer. You can contact her on Twitter at @SarahR_92.