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New unverified recording may shed more light on Brown shooting

An unverified audio recording released Tuesday may capture the final moments of Michael Brown’s life.
Roses line the street leading to a makeshift memorial for Michael Brown on Aug. 22, 2014 in Ferguson, Mo.
Roses line the street leading to a makeshift memorial for Michael Brown on Aug. 22, 2014 in Ferguson, Mo.

FERGUSON, Missouri— A new audio recording released Tuesday allegedly captures the final moments of Michael Brown’s life. The recording, which is unverified, suggests nearly a dozen shots were fired in an altercation between Brown and a police officer that left the unarmed teen dead. 

The lawyer for an unidentified resident who says he was recording a message to a friend around the time Ferguson police office Darren Wilson shot and killed Brown said her client had unwittingly picked up the sound of gunfire. 

It appears as many as 11 shots can be heard firing off in the background, with a burst of gunfire, a pause, and then several more shots.

NBC News has yet to confirm the authenticity of the recording. But the lawyer, Lupa Blumenthal, said she has shared the recording with the FBI.

A spokesman for the St. Louis County prosecutor’s office told NBC News that if validated, the tape could be a key piece of evidence. Federal officials won’t confirm they have the recording, but do say they are collecting audio and video of the incident as part of their investigation, as is routine.

If the recording is accurate and authentic, it could confirm what some witnesses to the shooting say happened during the fatal incident on Aug. 9.

They said Brown, who was black, and Wilson, who is white, were seen struggling through the driver’s side window of Wilson’s police car. They said Wilson fired a single shot from inside his car and then fired several more as Brown attempted to flee. Some witnesses, viewing the incident from different vantage points, have said Wilson fired several shots at Brown and that at some point the boy turned around with his hands up, at which point Wilson fired several more shots.

The newly released recording seems to corroborate those accounts. But the audio does not capture what occurred directly before and after the recording.

Police have insisted Wilson shot and killed Brown after the teen tried to take the officer’s gun.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch began presenting evidence in the case to a grand jury last week and said a decision on whether or not Wilson will be charged may not come until October.

Police have failed to offer many details surrounding the shooting, including the number of bullets Wilson fired at Brown. And according to a police report obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, Wilson did not file a detailed incident report following the shooting.

During a recent briefing with the St. Louis County Prosecutor’s Office, officials told NBC News that the Ferguson Police Department had yet to produce an incident report. But the department didn't need to produce a report, because it immediately turned over the investigation into Brown’s death to the county police, as is routine.

Last week the ACLU released what it said was a report from the police department following a lawsuit the group filed to obtain the records. The report offers few details typically found in an incident report involving a fatal shooting, listing little more than the date, time and location of the incident. But more curious are the time stamps on the document.

The report suggests a supervisor had not reviewed it until Aug. 19, 10 days after the fatal shooting. Final sign-off wasn’t given until Aug. 20, the report appears to indicate.

Many people present near the scene of Brown’s killing said Wilson had fired upward of 10 shots.

Tommy Chatman-Bey, who lives in the Canefield Green Apartment complex near where Brown was killed, said he was outside enjoying  a sunny afternoon the day of the shooting.

“I was right out there when I heard it,” Chatman Bey told msnbc recently. “I heard Boom, Boom, Boom, pause, Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom and then some more.”

 ”Overkill,” he added.

Darral Johnson,  a longtime Ferguson resident, said if the audio is correct, it seems to “poke holes” in the officers story.

“From the very beginning I always listened to what [witnesses] had to say and how their stories all match up. This to me matches up with what other witnesses have said, that he shot many shots at first then came up on him as he was almost laying down and fired more shots,” Johnson said.

During a recent protest, one woman held up a sign that captured the sentiment of many of Brown’s supporters: “1 shot stops you from reaching for his gun, 10 shots stops you from telling your side of the story.”

Brown was struck with at least 6 bullets including two that hit his skull, according to an autopsy performed at the behest of Brown’s family. On Monday, Brown was laid to rest.