An independent autopsy ordered by the family members of George Floyd showed the 46-year-old died from asphyxiation from sustained pressure to the back of his neck, their legal team announced Monday.
“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,” Ben Crump, a civil rights attorney, said at a news conference.
Independent pathologists also said Monday that there weren’t any other medical conditions that contributed to Floyd’s death. That directly contradicts what Minneapolis’ local officials have been saying: that multiple factors, including Floyd’s underlying conditions, led to his death last week.
According to a criminal complaint released after Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder Friday, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner conducted its own yet-to-be released autopsy on May 26, the day after Floyd’s death.
The medical examiner’s preliminary findings noted Floyd had underlying conditions like coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease, according to the complaint. The complaint also said that, based on preliminary findings, there wasn’t any evidence to support traumatic asphyxiation or strangulation, and instead speculated that Floyd’s pre-existing conditions, the police interaction, and “any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death.”
But Floyd’s family brought in their own brass: Dr. Michael Baden, the private pathologist who suggested Jeffrey Epstein was killed; and Allecia Wilson, director of autopsy and forensic services at the University of Michigan. The two conducted their own independent autopsy, Wilson said, though further investigations are still ongoing and toxicology results have not yet been released.
“The evidence is consistent with mechanical asphyxia as the cause of death, and homicide as the manner of death,” Wilson said.
Baden further said it was untrue that Floyd was in poor health.
“The cause of death, in my opinion, is asphyxia due to compression of the neck, which as Mr. Crump indicated, can interfere with blood flow and oxygen going into the brain, and compression of the back, which interferes with breathing,” Baden said.
It’s been only a week since Floyd was killed during an encounter over an alleged counterfeit bill — leading to distress, anguish, and outrage nationwide. Protests against police brutality erupted from Minneapolis to New York.
The Minneapolis Police Department said Floyd resisted when they approached him around 8 p.m. on Memorial Day. Bystander video that, though, shows that multiple officers held Floyd to the ground, as one — Chauvin — pressed his knee into the black man’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. Floyd repeatedly cried out that he couldn’t breathe, until he grew quiet and pulseless.
Chauvin has since been charged with murder and manslaughter. The three other officers involved have not been arrested. All four were fired last week.
Cover: The memorial and mural outside Cup Foods where George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer on Sunday, May 31, 2020 in Minneapolis , Minnesota. (Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)