The Hennepin County, Minn. Medical Examiner’s Office on Monday released official autopsy results in the death George Floyd. The medical examiner said the manner of Floyd’s death was homicide. However, further details in the official report clash with some of the results released earlier Monday by experts who conducted their own autopsy at the request of Floyd’s family.
The Medical Examiner said Floyd died from “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.” That was the official cause.
Critically, the report says Floyd “experienced a cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained by law enforcement officer(s).” The use of parentheses to marginally, but not completely, suggest that more than one officer may be to blame leaves open many questions about whether additional officers will be charged in the case. So far, only one officer, Derek Chauvin, has been arrested and charged. He faces one count of third-degree murder and one count of manslaughter.
Yet the official report also says Floyd had “[o]ther significant conditions,” which it listed as “[a]rteriosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease; fentanyl intoxication; recent methamphetamine use.”
Preliminary findings quoted in the court documents which charged Chauvin with crimes signaled that something like this might come in the medical examiner’s final report.
“Mr. Floyd had underlying health conditions including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease,” prosecutors earlier wrote in a criminal complaint against Chauvin, the now-former police officer seen on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck. “The combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death.”
Floyd’s family certainly agrees that the killing was a homicide and that Chauvin was responsible. However, their legal team previously released independent findings on Monday which said Floyd had no significant sign of heart disease. That autopsy dismissed the idea that underlying conditions contributed to Floyd’s death. Instead, that team said the death was the result of “mechanical asphyxiation” from Chauvin on Floyd’s neck and from two other officers who pressed into Floyd’s back. The knee to the neck cut blood flow to the brain, they said, while those who pressed into Floyd’s back made it hard for him to breathe.
As seen on video, Floyd pleaded with officers before he became unresponsive.
“Unfortunately, many police are under the impression if you can talk, that means you’re breathing,” said Dr. Michael Baden, a forensic pathologist recruited by the family attorneys to examine Floyd. “That is not true.”
As to the alleged underlying conditions, Dr. Allecia Wilson, a member of Baden’s team, said that tissue sections examined in the family’s independent autopsy indicated “no significant underlying disease of the heart” and that the “vessels [were] clear.”
“I wish I had the same coronary arteries that Mr. Floyd had,” Baden said.
Those findings conflicted with the medical examiner’s findings.
You can read the Hennepin County findings here:
Aaron Keller contributed to this report.
Disclosure: Dr. Michael Baden is married to Law&Crime host and analyst Linda Kenney Baden.
[Screengrab via Darnella Frazier]
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