George Floyd’s pre-existing medical conditions and the drugs in his system had nothing to do with his death, two prosecution medical experts testified at Derek Chauvin’s murder trial Thursday. On the contrary, a combination of actions during his arrest that deprived him of oxygen caused his death, they said.
“Floyd died from a low level of oxygen, which caused the damage to his brain which we see, and this also caused a PEA (pulse-less electrical activity) arrhythmia which caused his heart to stop.” Martin Tobin, a lung and critical care specialist at Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital and Loyola University School of Medicine in Chicago, told Hennepin County District Court.
Tobin said he handcuffed Floyd and pinned him face down to the sidewalk – with Chauvin’s knees pressed into his neck and back, all of which combined to reduce his ability to breathe and ultimately killed him.
“A healthy person subjected to what Mr. Floyd was subjected to would have died as a result of what he was subjected to,” Tobin said.
‘Pressure on his chest and back’
Dr. Bill Smock, a physician from Louisville, Ky., Physician and expert on asphyxiation deaths, agreed that Floyd had died “because he was out of oxygen in his body”, due to “the pressure on his chest and back ”.
Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin, who is white, pressed a knee to the nape of his neck and back for about nine minutes as two other officers held him down. Video of the arrest captured by a bystander sparked widespread outrage, sparking protests against race and police brutality in the United States and around the world.
Chauvin, 45, former Minneapolis police officer, is on trial for unintentional second degree murder; third degree murder; and second degree manslaughter. Thursday marked the ninth day of the trial.
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.
Floyd suffered from heart disease and high blood pressure, while toxicology results revealed fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system.
WATCH | An expert explains why an overdose of fentanyl probably didn’t cause Floyd’s death:
However, Tobin rejected any suggestion that the fentanyl in Floyd’s system led to his death, claiming that based on his calculations, Floyd’s respiratory rate before he lost consciousness would have been much lower if such. had been the case.
“Do any of these conditions have anything to do with the cause of Mr. Floyd’s death, in your professional opinion, either,” Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell asked Tobin.
“Not at all, ” he has answered.
Instead, Tobin underwent a detailed examination of Floyd’s death, based on medical records, videos, and interviews. Tobin said four things contributed to Floyd’s lack of oxygen: that he was handcuffed; place in a lying position face down; that Chauvin’s knees were pressed against Floyd’s neck and back; and that his chest was pinned to the sidewalk, unable to fully expand.
“All of these four forces will ultimately result in the low tidal volume, which gives you shallow breaths, ”he said.
Tobin said that the way the police pressed Floyd’s handcuffs, combined with the fact that Floyd was pressed against the hard sidewalk, had the effect of putting his left side in a vise “which totally interferes with the central features of the way. which we breathe. “
“There were virtually very few opportunities for him to be able to get air through the left side of his chest,” he said.
“He’s stuck against the street. And so the street plays a major role in preventing him from expanding his chest.”
Prevent expansion of the breast
Based on videos of the arrest, Tobin said, he calculated that half of Chauvin’s weight, 91.5 pounds, fell directly on Floyd’s neck.
Tobin told jurors what happens when the space in the airways narrows. Breathing then becomes “enormously more difficult,” he said, comparing it to “breathing through a straw”, although he later clarified that it would be much more difficult than that.
Tobin also explained that Chavin’s knee on Floyd’s neck “is extremely important because it will obstruct (stop) the air coming in through the passage.”
“Officer Chauvin’s left knee is practically at the neck for the vast majority of the time,” he said.
In cross-examination, Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, argued that Tobin was making certain assumptions when making his calculations.
Tobin disagreed, saying he had made “very few assumptions.”
But Tobin agreed that, for example, he had never weighed Chauvin on May 25, 2020 or weighed his equipment.
“ This is not an overdose of fentanyl ”
Meanwhile, Smock, when interviewed by Blackwell, pointed out that in his opinion Floyd was not showing the signs of someone having overdosed on fentanyl.
“When you watch these videos and we go through them, what’s his breathing? He’s breathing. He’s talking, he’s not snoring. He says, ‘Please let me go. I want to breathe. I can’t. breathe. “. This is not a fentanyl overdose. It is someone begging to breathe.”
Smock also testified that the level of methamphetamine in Floyd’s system was “really nothing”.
On cross-examination, Smock was asked if a “methamphetamine and fentanyl” death is a very different type of death than a fentanyl-exclusive death.
“Depending on the level, yes,” he says.
Smock was also asked if he had had any deaths in people who ingested methamphetamine and fentanyl and also suffered from heart disease.
“Not necessarily from those, but maybe from something else,” Smock said.
“But sometimes it could just be from those,” Nelson said.
“It would depend on the case,” Sad smock.
Smock was also asked if one of the side effects of the prescribed amphetamine was sudden cardiac arrhythmia.
“Depending on the level, this is a rare side effect, but it’s definitely possible,” Smock said.
And Smock agreed that people have suffered from heart arrhythmias in the past during wrestling with the police.
But under Blackwell’s redirection, Smock agreed that there was no evidence Floyd had a heart attack or “sudden death that looked like an arrhythmia.”
“Did you see any evidence that he died of an overdose?” Blackwell asked.
“No, sir, he didn’t,” Smock said.