George Floyd's Death Was Murder, Medical Examiner Confirms
Family's autopsy finds cop's knee on his neck caused asphyxia
George Floyd's death has been ruled a homicide and he died from asphyxiation due to the police officer kneeling on his neck, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner as confirmed.
Officials are now walking back initial reports that Mr. Floyd wasn't strangled when a Minneapolis cop knelt on his neck during an arrest last week after the medical examiner's office ruled his death was a homicide on Monday.
An independent autopsy, which was also released on Monday, confirms the same conclusion from the medical examiner that the death was a homicide by asphyxiation.
There are key differences over the cause between the two reports, however.
During his arrest, Floyd cried out that he couldn't breathe as Officer Derek Chauvin pinned him down by kneeling on his neck, video of the incident has shown.
A press release from the Hennepin County Medical Examiner said Floyd had "recent methamphetamine use" and "fentanyl intoxication" - along with hypertension and coronary artery disease - all of which were possible contributing factors to his death.
But two doctors who carried out that independent autopsy of the 46-year-old and two attorneys for his family said that he had no underlying health conditions that may have contributed to his death, according to The Daily Mail.
They argued that not only the officer who was kneeing Floyd's neck killed him but also two officers who were pressing their weight onto Floyd's back while he was on the ground.
They added that they did not have information on toxicology and any drug or alcohol use by Floyd.
Dr. Allecia Wilson of the University of Michigan, one of the two forensic doctors who performed the independent autopsy, said the evidence pointed to homicide by "mechanical asphyxia" meaning from some physical force that interfered with oxygen supply.
While the county's full autopsy report has not yet been released - Monday's press release appeared to show authorities walked back their conclusions on what killed Floyd.
The original criminal complaint against Chauvin cited the medical examiner's office when it said it found no findings of "strangulation or asphyxia."
Carolyn Marinan, a spokeswoman for Hennepin County, did not confirm any reversal, saying only that Monday's press release was the "final findings."
Bystander video showed Floyd pleading to be let up and repeatedly saying "I can't breathe" as Chauvin pinned him to the ground for nearly nine minutes.
Two other officers applied pressure with their knees to Floyd's back while a fourth looked on.
Chauvin, who is white and was fired from the Minneapolis police department over the incident, was hit with third-degree murder and manslaughter charges last week as protests over Floyd's death roiled the nation.
But Dr. Michael Baden, who took part in the independent autopsy at the behest of Floyd's family, said that the two other officers' actions also caused Floyd to stop breathing.
"We can see after a little bit less than four minutes that Mr. Floyd is motionless, lifeless," Baden said.
He countered the argument that if Floyd could speak then he could breathe, saying: "Many police are under the impression that if you can talk, that means you're breathing. That is not true.
"I am talking right now in front of you and not taking a breath."
Baden also refuted the idea that Floyd had coronary artery disease.
In a comment in reference to his age group's susceptibility to coronavirus, the 85-year-old quipped: "I wish I had the same coronary arteries that Mr. Floyd had."
Baden has worked on several high-profile cases, including the 2014 death of Eric Garner, a black man who died after being placed in an unlawful chokehold by NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo in New York City.
Pantaleo, whose actions were caught on video, wasn't criminally charged but was fired from the police force in 2019.
Baden also previously conducted an autopsy on convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein that suggested he may have been murdered, in addition to testifying at the OJ Simpson murder trial.
On Sunday night, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said all four of the officers involved in Floyd's arrest are "complicit" in his death.
George Floyd's funeral will be held in Houston, Texas, on June 9 — after a public viewing the night before, his family’s lawyer said Monday.