Independent autopsy rules George Floyd’s death was homicide by asphyxia

George Floyd (L) and his fiancee, Courteney Ross. | Screenshot: CBSN

[UPDATE] June 2, 8 a.m. ET: Hennepin County Medical Examiner's office on Monday ruled George Floyd's manner of death was a homicide and stated that he suffered "a cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained by law enforcement officer(s)." The medical examiner's office listed "arteriosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease," "fentanyl intoxication" and "recent methamphetamine use" as "other significant conditions."

Original story below

George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man who died in police custody while a police officer kneeled on his neck as he begged to breathe in Minneapolis on Memorial Day, died by asphyxia, according to an independent autopsy.

Dr. Michael Baden and Dr. Allecia Wilson "found the manner of Mr. Floyd’s 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 statement released Monday by the office of attorney Ben Crump, co-counsels and Floyd’s family reads.

Baden formerly worked as New York City’s chief medical examiner and conducted the autopsy of Eric Garner, a black man who was put in a fatal chokehold by police in 2014.

The independent autopsy seems to conflict with the autopsy conducted by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner.

“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,” the statement explained. “From all the evidence, the doctors said it now appears Mr. Floyd died at the scene.”

The findings of the independent medical examiners come less than a week after it was announced May 26 that the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's preliminary report revealed “no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation.”

The report noted that Floyd had underlying health conditions including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease.

“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,” the medical examiner’s office stated. 

Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer who was recorded kneeling into Floyd’s neck in a video online, was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said Friday.

Three other officers who were involved in the incident that has sparked protests and riots nationwide have not yet been charged. 

Freeman said at a news conference that his team thought it was appropriate to build a case against “the most dangerous perpetrator” first, as the investigation continues. He believes there's enough evidence to prove the charges “beyond a reasonable doubt” against Chauvin.

In their statement issued Monday, Crump, his co-counsels and Floyd’s family called for the arrest of all the officers who played a part in Floyd’s death. 

They also called for Chauvin to be charged with first-degree murder.

Chauvin, who was taken into custody by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, was caught on video along with his former colleagues arresting Floyd on May 25.

In the approximately 10-minute video, a handcuffed Floyd is shown lying face down, begging for his life and crying for his mother while Chauvin kneels into his neck. 

Chauvin kneels into Floyd’s neck until he begins to bleed from his nose and becomes unresponsive. Even after Floyd becomes motionless on the ground, Chauvin is shown pressing his knee into his neck for several more minutes as bystanders begged him to have mercy.

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