An independent autopsy ordered by the family of George Floyd finds the 46-year-old man was killed by “homicide caused by asphyxia due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain.”
The early findings from the exam were released Monday afternoon by Floyd family attorney Ben Crump. Dr. Michael Baden and Dr. Allecia Wilson performed the autopsy, reports USA Today.
The doctors said there was “neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain,” and identified “weight on the back, handcuffs and positioning” as contributory factors that caused Floyd’s diaphragm to stop functioning properly. They added that Floyd died at the scene of the incident, not hours later as police had previously reported.
The independent autopsy comes a few days after an official autopsy from the Hennepin County Medical Examiner stated there were no “no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation.”
“Mr. 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,” read the preliminary findings, which were released last Friday.
Many rightfully pointed the vagueness of the findings—“potential intoxicants” feels unduly speculative to wave in front of the public, especially since a toxicology report could take weeks. But there was also the obvious: if Floyd were simply allowed to return home from the Cup Foods deli on Monday afternoon, even with chronic conditions, he would likely still be alive today.
Instead, Officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck for nearly 9 minutes as Floyd lay facedown on the ground, allegedly after he “resisted” arrest for using a fake $20 bill. Chauvin ignored both Floyd’s pleas and those of bystanders who had gathered around, begging him to get off.
The official autopsy noted that for nearly three minutes, Chauvin continued to press his knee into Floyd’s neck, despite Floyd being unresponsive. Three officers at the scene, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng, did nothing to intervene.
All four officers were fired within days of Floyd’s death, but thus far Chauvin is the only one facing charges.
“Police are trained that this type of restraint with a subject in a prone position is inherently dangerous,” noted the preliminary autopsy report.
“What we found is consistent with what people saw,” Baden, who helped conduct the independent autopsy, said. “There is no other health issue that could cause or contribute to the death. Police have this false impression that if you can talk, you can breathe. That’s not true.”