WASHINGTON (Xinhua) — Two separate autopsies of George Floyd, the Minneapolis black man who died in police custody last week, released Monday both indicated his death was a homicide, although they differed in details.
One of the posthumous reports, issued by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office, listed “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint and neck compression” as the cause of Floyd’s death on May 25, which triggered nationwide protests against racism and police abuse – some of them turning violent.
The official account came hours after a separate autopsy commissioned by Floyd’s family stated that “asphyxiation from sustained pressure was the cause” of the 46-year-old’s death. The autopsy found that there was “neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain,” the Floyd family’s attorney, Benjamin Crump, said during a press conference Monday.
The medical examiner’s autopsy found “no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation,” while suggesting that Floyd’s existing health conditions — coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease — combined with being restrained by police and any “potential intoxicants in his system” contributed to his death.
The report said its finding “is not a legal determination of culpability or intent, and should not be used to usurp the judicial process.”
The family-commissioned autopsy, however, said “weight on the back, handcuffs and positioning were contributory factors because they impaired the ability of Mr. Floyd’s diaphragm to function.”
Michael Baden, one of the doctors who performed the family-commissioned 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.”
Being handcuffed and pinned to the ground by police officers, Floyd pleaded for help during the final moment of his life, crying that he could not breathe. Derek Chauvin, one of the officers, kept kneeling on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes.
All the four officers involved in the incident have been fired, and Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
“For George Floyd, the ambulance was his hearse,” Crump, the family attorney, said emotionally at the press conference. “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.”
“Mr. Floyd’s death was a homicide by officers who taunted him while holding him down for more than eight minutes. And the officer who stood by doing nothing was a physical blue shield – a living symbol of the code of silence,” Crump added.