Hennepin County Medical Examiner releases new cause of death for George Floyd

The cause of death on each report is different.

Cardiac arrest or asphyxia? The autopsy reports for George Floyd released Monday by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office and forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden differ, though both rule the manner of death a homicide.

Per the private autopsy, which was released Monday by civil rights attorney Ben Crump, Floyd died while in custody of "asphyxia from sustained forceful pressure," the result of former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes on Memorial Day evening. 

The full Hennepin County Medical Examiner Office's (HCME) report was released shortly after, saying the cause of death was homicide by "cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdural, restraint, and neck compression."

It said Floyd "experienced a cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained by law enforcement officer(s)," though made note that the manner of death being homicide is "not a legal determination of culpability or intent." 

While the private autopsy stated that Floyd had no underlying health conditions contribute to his death, the HCME report listed arteriosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease, in addition to fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use as contributing factors. 

There were "no physical findings that support death by traumatic asphyxia or strangulation," the HCME report said. 

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Comparatively, the private autopsy found that the manner of death was "homicide caused by asphyxia due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain."

"Sustained pressure on the right side of Mr. Floyd’s carotid artery impeded blood flow to the brain, and weight on his back impeded his ability to breathe," a release from Crump states.

"The independent examiners found that weight on the back, handcuffs and positioning were contributory factors because they impaired the ability of Mr. Floyd’s diaphragm to function. From all the evidence, the doctors said it now appears Mr. Floyd died at the scene."

“What we found is consistent with what people saw. There is no other health issue that could cause or contribute to the death,” Dr. Baden said. “Police have this false impression that if you can talk, you can breathe. That’s not true.”

Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Three other officers involved in the arrest of Floyd have not been charged. 

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