« [The adrenaline is] is going to ask your body for more oxygen so you can get through this altercation, ”said Dr Andrew Baker, the Hennepin County medical examiner who performed Floyd’s autopsy and said his death was a homicide. Baker’s testimony marked day 10 on the trail of the murder of Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer facing a trial for unintentional second degree murder; third degree murder; and second degree manslaughter in connection with Floyd’s death.
“And in my opinion, the subdual strain from law enforcement and the compression of the neck was just more than what Mr. Floyd could withstand due to these heart issues,” Baker said.
Baker’s testimony deviated somewhat from what the court had previously heard from other medical witnesses called by the prosecution.
Floyd died on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin, who is white, pressed one knee on the back of his neck for about nine minutes as two other officers held him down.
Witness confirmed autopsy report
The outcome of the high-profile trial is being watched closely after video of Floyd’s arrest captured by a bystander sparked widespread outrage, sparking protests against race and police brutality in the United States and around the world.
The prosecution claims that Chauvin pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck while detaining him on suspicion of using a counterfeit ticket at a convenience store caused his death. But the defense contends that Chauvin did what his training taught him and that it was a combination of Floyd’s underlying medical conditions, drug use, and the adrenaline circulating in his system that ultimately got him. kill.
The court has so far heard from prosecution medical experts, including a leading lung specialist, who have said Floyd died of asphyxiation – or lack of oxygen – due to the actions of the police. Baker did not judge asphyxiation to be a cause of Floyd’s death.
Previous witnesses had dramatically downplayed Floyd’s pre-existing medical conditions and the drugs found in his system to play a role in his death.
However, Baker reaffirmed the findings of his autopsy report. He said these were contributing factors, but not the leading cause of death.
Asked by prosecutor Jerry Blackwell, Baker explained that Floyd had narrowed the coronary arteries – about 75% blockage in his left anterior descending artery and 90% in his right coronary artery. Floyd also had hypertensive heart disease, which meant his heart weighed slightly more than it should.
Floyd’s confrontation with the police, which included being pinned face down on the sidewalk while Chauvin pressed his knees to his neck, produced adrenaline that made Floyd’s heart beat faster.
Baker testified that Floyd died “of a cardiopulmonary arrest complicating the subdualization, restraint and compression of the neck”.
When asked to explain the cardiopulmonary arrest, Baker said it was “sophisticated medical jargon for the arrested heart and lungs.”
He also explained the definition of “homicide” in an autopsy report, that it was a medical and not a legal term, which applies when the actions of other people are involved in the death of a person. ‘an individual.
During cross-examination, Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, grasped the potential role played by Floyd’s heart disease and the drugs found in his system.
“In your opinion, the heart disease along with the history of high blood pressure and the medications that were in his system played a role in Mr. Floyd’s death?” Nelson asked Baker.
“In my opinion, yes,” Baker said.
Baker also agreed that he had certified overdose as the cause of death in other autopsies where this person had much lower levels of fentanyl in their system than those found in Floyd.
Nelson asked Baker if he recalled having conversations with prosecutors last year in which he described the level of fentanyl found in Floyd’s system to be a “lethal level.”
“I remember describing it in other circumstances, it would be a fatal level,” Baker said.
But Baker also agreed that he described Floyd’s death as a “multifactorial process.”
He said the drugs and high blood pressure were not “direct causes” but were “contributing causes”.
The trial continues.