George Floyd cause of death: Family seek independent autopsy

An independent medical examiner has been hired by George Floyd’s legal team for an autopsy after one conducted by the county pathologist revealed “no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation”.

Civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump issued a statement on the weekend addressing the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s preliminary findings, saying “attempts to avoid the hard truth will not stand”.

The findings of the report by forensic pathologists Dr Michael Baden and Dr Allecia Wilson will be made public after the independent autopsy, to be conducted in the next few days.

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Fired Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter after the death of Floyd, a black father-of-two and security guard, who was placed under arrest last Monday.

The other three officers were also stood down. Prosecutor Mike Freeman said more charges were possible, but authorities “felt it appropriate to focus on the most dangerous perpetrator”.

Police were called to a grocery store after Floyd allegedly paid using a fake $20 note.

In the 911 call that drew police, the caller described him as “awfully drunk” and “not in control of himself”.

While pressed to the ground on his stomach and with a knee on the back of his neck, he could be heard repeatedly telling the four officers from two separate cars: “I can’t breathe.”

A complaint filed in the District Court against Chauvin alleges he had his knee on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds.

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“Two minutes and 53 seconds of this was after Mr Floyd was non-responsive,” it states.

“Police are trained that this type of restraint with a subject in a prone position is inherently dangerous.”

The third-degree murder charge alleges Chauvin caused Floyd’s death “by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life”.

The second-degree manslaughter charge alleges he caused the death by “culpable negligence, creating an unreasonable risk and taking a chance of causing death or great bodily harm”.

They carry maximum penalties of 25 years in jail, and 10 years and/or $20,000, respectively.

Former US police officer Mohamed Noor was convicted of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter last year after shooting dead unarmed Australian woman Justine Damond in 2017.

He was jailed for 12 years and six months.

RELATED: Floyd’s brother calls for death penalty for Chauvin


The complaint against Chauvin states Floyd was over six feet tall and weighing more than 90 kilograms at the time of his death.

Floyd’s autopsy was conducted by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner the following day, May 26.

“The full report of the ME is pending but the ME has made the following preliminary findings,” the document states.

“The autopsy revealed no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation.

“Mr Floyd had underlying health conditions including coronary artery disease and hypertensive artery 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.”

In a press release, the county stated the medical examiner “is a neutral and independent officer and is separate and distinct from any prosecutorial authority or law enforcement agency”.

“The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s office is actively investigating the death of George Floyd and awaiting final results from laboratory studies to provide the most medically accurate cause of death determination possible,” it said on May 28.

Mr Crump said they were not surprised by the early findings but “tragically disappointed”.

“We hope that this does not reflect efforts to create a false narrative for the reason George Floyd died,” he said on the weekend.

“Attempts to avoid the hard truth will not stand, and on behalf of the family, we are fiercely committed to bringing the truth to light.”

Dr Baden, hired by the family, used to be the chief medical examiner in New York City.

He was also retained to do an autopsy on African-American man Eric Garner, who was suspected of a petty crime in July 2014 and wrestled into a choke hold by a police officer.

Garner was also heard saying “I can’t breathe” before later being pronounced dead in hospital.

A grand jury decided not to indict officer Daniel Pantaleo who was seen tackling Garner.

Co-counsel in Floyd’s case, Antonio Romanucci, said the legal team believes “there is clear proximity between the excessive use of force and his death”.

He said: “What we know is clear: George Floyd was alive before his encounter with police, and he was dead after that encounter.”

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