(TMU) – Nearly a week after George Floyd died in police custody, an independent investigation has confirmed what appeared obvious in the footage that has outraged millions of people: Floyd, an unarmed 46-year-old Black man, died in an act of homicide due to “asphyxiation from sustained pressure.”
The independent autopsy, ordered by Floyd’s bereaved family, found that the homicide was “caused by asphyxia due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain,” according to initial findings from the investigation that were released on Monday.
The damning report by Dr. Michael Baden and University of Michigan Medical School director of autopsy and forensic services, Dr. Allecia Wilson, concluded that Floyd likely died at the scene. Baden previously worked as New York City chief medical examiner and also conducted the autopsy of Eric Garner, whose choking death at the hands of NYPD officers in 2014 precipitated one of the most active years of protest and community unrest the U.S. had seen in decades.
In an emailed release quoted by HuffPost, Baden said:
“What we found is consistent with what people saw … 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.”
Attorney Ben Crump, who represents the family of George Floyd, said that Floyd was essentially “dead on the scene” after former police Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee down on Floyd’s neck while other officers kneeled on his back. He added:
“Essentially, George died because he needed a breath. He needed a breath of air.”
According to the independent examiners, the weight on Floyd’s back along with the handcuffs and his positioning contributed to his death because they impaired the ability of his diaphragm to function, ABC reports.
However, the Minneapolis Police Department claimed following Floyd’s death that he perished shortly after the altercation after he was transported to a local hospital on May 25.
According to a criminal complaint released by the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, Chauvin held his knee and body weight down on Floyd’s neck for a total of 8 minutes and 46 seconds in total, and two minutes and 53 seconds after Floyd lost consciousness, CNN reports.
the now lifeless subject of your command and control policing ,
the human being under your brutal knee.
— 𝐑𝐞𝐯. 𝐂𝐨𝐫𝐧𝐞𝐥𝐥 𝐖𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐚𝐦 𝐁𝐫𝐨𝐨𝐤𝐬 (@CornellWBrooks) May 26, 2020
In a press conference Monday, Crump said:
“For George Floyd, the ambulance was his hearse. 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 the two additional officers kneeling him in his back.”
The independent autopsy comes after the Hennepin County Medical Examiner found “no physical findings” to “support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation,” according to the criminal complaint. In the medical examiner’s preliminary autopsy, potential intoxicants in Floyd’s system and underlying health issues like heart disease were cited as probable contributors to his death.
However, Floyd’s cause and manner of death remain pending and is the subject of investigations on the local, state, and federal level, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office said in a statement.
Homicide is a legal term that encompasses any death caused by another person, including murder and manslaughter.
Former officer Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter following an uproar resulting from the release of videotaped footage of the apparent killing. The three other officers involved in the arrest were fired along with Chauvin but still haven’t been charged.
Third-degree murder is a category of murder that only exists in three states: Florida, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania. According to Minnesota statutes, a person can be charged with third-degree murder “by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind.”
BREAKING: Independent autopsy ordered by George Floyd's family found he was killed by "homicide caused by asphyxia due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain," according to early findings.https://t.co/dslAVpTIxq pic.twitter.com/2YQ6wD1cGe
— Good Morning America (@GMA) June 1, 2020