Medical examiner blames police pressure for Floyd’s death – WSVN 7News | Miami News, Weather, Sports
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – The chief medical officer who decided George Floyd’s death was murder testified Friday that the way the police held him and pinched his neck “was only more than Mr. Floyd could endure “.
Dr. Andrew Baker, the Hennepin County’s medical examiner, commented on the murder trial of former officer Derek Chauvin for putting his knee at or near Floyd’s neck. The one-year-old black guy was lying on the sidewalk last May.
When asked about his finding that Police’s “subdual, restraint and neck compression” had brought Floyd’s heart to a halt, Baker said that Floyd had severe underlying heart disease and an enlarged heart that needed more oxygen than normal to move function, as well as the narrowing of two heart arteries.
Baker said engaging in a brawl increases adrenaline, which prompts the heart to beat even faster and provide more oxygen.
“And in my opinion, the subdual, the restraint and the neck compression of law enforcement was just more than Mr. Floyd could take because of that heart condition,” said the coroner.
Other medical experts, including a senior pulmonologist, have gone further and have testified that Floyd died of suffocation – or insufficient oxygen – because his breathing was restricted when he lay on his stomach with his hands tied and his face against the floor was clamped and Chauvin’s knee was on his neck.
Baker did not determine asphyxiation as the cause of Floyd’s death. And at one point he said he was not an expert on oxygen starvation because he did not treat living people and that he would refer certain questions to experts on breathing.
Baker also said that from viewing the video, he believed Chauvin’s knee was “primarily on his back or the side or the area in between on Mr. Floyd’s neck”. And he said that, in his opinion, the placement of Chauvin’s knee would not have cut off Floyd’s airway.
Chauvin, 45, is charged with the murder and manslaughter of Floyd’s May 25th death. Floyd was arrested outside a neighborhood market after being accused of trying to hand over a fake $ 20 bill.
The bystander video of Floyd crying he couldn’t breathe as viewers yelled at the white officer to get rid of him sparked protests and dispersed violence across the U.S.
Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson has argued that the now-dismissed officer did what he was trained to do and that Floyd’s illicit drug use and underlying health conditions killed him. An autopsy found fentanyl and methamphetamine in Floyd’s system.
Ted Sampsell-Jones, a law professor at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota, said evidence of Floyd’s cause of death is prosecutors’ greatest weakness. He said that with Baker’s testimony, the jury is gradually discovering that prosecutors have been forced to distance themselves from their own medical examiner.
“It could potentially raise reasonable doubts about the cause of death,” he said.
However, Sampsell-Jones said the legal standard for determining the cause of the damage is quite low. The state just needs to show that Chauvin’s behavior was a major cause.
“If the state had to prove that Chauvin’s behavior was the only or even the primary cause of death, the case would be in real trouble,” he said.
In his testimony, Baker said that neither Floyd’s heart problems nor drugs caused his death. However, under cross-examination, he agreed with Nelson that these factors “played a role” in his death.
A medical expert testifying Thursday said a healthy person exposed to what Floyd endured would also have died.
Nelson asked Baker if he had confirmed fentanyl overdose deaths lower than those in Floyd’s blood, and Baker said yes. However, Baker also noted that fentanyl levels need to be considered in relation to the length of time the drug has been used, the tolerance built upon it, and the possible other substances.
The coroner said he did not watch the harrowing video of the arrest before examining Floyd so that he would not be overly influenced by what he saw.
“I didn’t want to influence my exam with preconceived ideas that could lead me one way or the other,” he said.
Other medical experts called as prosecutor’s witnesses have also attributed Floyd’s death to the way he was held to the ground.
Dr. Lindsey Thomas, a forensic pathologist who retired from the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office in 2017 and did not work on Floyd’s case, testified earlier Friday that she agrees with Baker’s findings but appears to go further and explain the “primary mechanism of death.” said Was insufficient oxygen.
She said she came to that conclusion, mostly from a video showing Floyd having difficulty breathing.
During cross-examination, Nelson found that Floyd’s larger heart needed more blood and was working hard in a moment of stress and adrenaline, and that one of his arteries was 90% blocked.
The defense attorney urged Thomas by asking a hypothetical question.
“Let’s say you found Mr. Floyd dead in his apartment. No police involvement, no drugs, right? The only thing you found would be these facts about his heart. What would you consider the cause of death? Nelson asked.
“Under these very narrow circumstances, I would probably conclude that the cause of death was his heart disease,” replied Thomas.
In response to another hypothesis by Nelson, she agreed that if there were no other explanations, she would confirm Floyd’s death as a drug overdose.
However, during re-interrogation, prosecutor Jerry Blackwell mocked the defense attorney’s hypotheses.
“Aren’t these questions much like asking women? Lincoln, if we take out John Wilkes Booth … ”Blackwell began before Nelson objected.
For the first time, a seat reserved for Chauvin’s family was occupied by a woman on Friday. She was not identified immediately. Chauvin’s marriage ended in divorce in the months following Floyd’s death.
Also on Friday, Judge Peter Cahill called a jury and asked her if she had been exposed to outside influences. She replied that she briefly watched the TV coverage with the sound off and that her mother-in-law texted her, “Looks like it’s a bad day,” but she didn’t answer.
The judge allowed her to stay on the jury.
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