Health Care

EXPLAINER: 'Contributing' factors in Floyd death key to case

EXPLAINER: 'Contributing' factors in Floyd death key to case”

VA Hospital and Loyola University's medical school in IL, testified on different days this week that Floyd died from a lack of oxygen. He performed the only autopsy on George Floyd following his May 2020 death.

Dr. William Smock, a forensic pathologist who works with police, told the jury that Floyd died of "positional asphyxia" from the police holds, "which is a fancy way of saying he died because he had no oxygen left in his body", he said.

On Thursday, a medical expert testified that Floyd died of a lack of oxygen from being pinned to the pavement with a knee on his neck, not because of drug use and health issues.

Chauvin, 45, is charged with murder and manslaughter in Floyd's death May 25 after kneeling on him for what prosecutors say was 9 1/2 minutes.

Mr Floyd was arrested outside a neighbourhood market after being accused of trying to pass a counterfeit 20 dollar bill.

Video of the arrest showed Chauvin, who is white, pinning Floyd's neck to the ground with his knees for more than nine minutes as Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, begged for his life, gasping more than two dozen times: "I can't breathe".

Since then, the defence has argued that the fentanyl caused Mr Floyd's loss of oxygen.

She added that, based on her review, she could confidently rule out both a drug overdose and Mr Floyd's heart problems as the cause of death. "His heart disease did not cause the subdual or the neck restraint".

"Mr Floyd died from a low level of oxygen and this caused damage to his brain", Dr Tobin said.

Baker's testimony came on the 10th day of Chauvin's trial, the culmination of a week filled with expert testimony by not only medical experts, but also policing experts who testified Chauvin violated policy and used excessive force on Floyd.

Baker said that although the toxicology screen of Floyd's blood found methamphetamine and fentanyl, he concluded the drugs were not a direct cause of Floyd's death.

Baker also agreed that he had certified overdose as the cause of death in other autopsies where that individual had much lower levels of fentanyl in their system than was found in Floyd.

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"George Floyd was not laying by the pool on his stomach in Florida, was he?"

Dr Tobin said that if Mr Floyd had been suffering from a coronary condition at the time he would have been "complaining of chest pain and demonstrating a very rapid respiratory rate", adding: "We don't see either".

"I was aware that at least one video had gone viral on the internet, but I intentionally chose not to look at that until I had examined Mr Floyd", said Dr Baker.

Dr Thomas was an assistant medical examiner in the Hennepin County medical examiner's office until she went into "semi-retirement" in 2017.

He said that while Mr Floyd's breathing became fatally shallow under the police restraint, the number of breaths he took per minute did not decrease up until the moment he lost consciousness.

On Friday, asked about the autopsy and Floyd's death certificate, Baker described the "top line of the cause of death" as "what you think is the most important thing that precipitated the death".

On the death certificate, Baker cited "cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression" as the cause of Floyd's death.

In an email to the Floyd family's attorney, Benjamin Crump, Clooney seems to want to test this theory in court.

He said drugs and hypertension were not "direct causes" but they were "contributing causes". But she also said some people can live just fine with an artery that is fully blocked.

Baker testified Friday that police holding down Floyd "was just more than Mr. Floyd could take", given the condition of his heart, which was enlarged and needed more oxygen than normal to function.

Nelson asked her about hypothetical scenarios, with Floyd being found dead in different circumstances in which police were not involved. "What you're seeing is that the increase in his carbon dioxide that is found in the emergency room is exclusively explained by what you expect to happen in somebody who doesn't have any ventilation given to him for 9 minutes and 50 seconds, it's completely explained by that".

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