Second George Floyd autopsy finds death 'due to asphyxia due to sustained forceful pressure'

Floyd's family commissioned an independent autopsy.
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The attorney representing the family of George Floyd says that an independent autopsy has found the 46-year-old's death was caused by "asphyxia from sustained forceful pressure."

That's according to civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who on Monday released the results of the autopsy by well-known forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden and Dr. Allecia Wilson.

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office said there were "no physical findings that support death by traumatic asphyxia or strangulation" after he was pinned to the ground with the knee of former Officer Derek Chauvin to his neck for almost 9 minutes, while two other officers were kneeling on the lower half of his body.

Instead, it determined his death was likely the result of "the combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system." It was noted that Floyd had two heart conditions.

But the second autopsy found that the manner of his 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 reads.

"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.”

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Crump commented that the ambulance was Floyd's "hearse," despite responders trying for an hour to revive him.

"Beyond question, he would be alive today if not for the pressure applied to his neck by fired officer Derek Chauvin and the strain on his body from two additional officers kneeling on him,” said lead attorney Crump.

"Mr. Floyd’s death was a homicide by officers who taunted him while holding him down for more than eight minutes. And the officer who stood by doing nothing was a physical blue shield – a living symbol of the code of silence."

It comes amid ongoing calls from protesters for the arrest and charging of the three other former officers involved in Floyd's death: Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J. Alexander Kueng.

Co-counsel Antonio Romanucci of Romanucci & Blandin LLC said that the real cause of Floyd's death was "the culture of the Minneapolis Police Department."

“The City of Minneapolis clearly had a pattern, custom and practice of failing to train and discipline its police officers, creating a culture of impunity allowing them to treat people of color as lesser human beings, unworthy of basic respect," he said.

Speaking at a virtual press conference, Dr. Wilson said that second autopsies do have limitations as pathologists aren't seeing the body in its original state, and that the first pathologists keep some of the original materials.

But, she said, even having those materials would "not change or alter the primary cause of death, which is of mechanical asphyxia."

“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.”

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