Official post-mortem declares George Floyd's death a homicide

1 June 2020, 20:46

George Floyd died in Minneapolis last Monday
George Floyd died in Minneapolis last Monday. Picture: Social media
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

An official post-mortem examination has declared George Floyd's death a homicide.

He suffered a cardiac arrest while being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on 25 May, the report found.

It comes after an independent autopsy found that George Floyd died from asphyxiation from sustained pressure to his neck and back.

The attorney representing Mr Floyd's family released the results of the autopsy on Monday which determined that his death was "homicide caused by asphyxia due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain."

46-year-old George Floyd was an African-American man who died in Minneapolis, Minnesota after Derek Chauvin, a police officer, held his knee on Mr Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes.

Chauvin, who has since been charged with third-degree murder, ignored Mr Floyd's cries of distress, during which he could be heard saying: "I can't breathe."

The other three officers at the scene were, like Chauvin, fired the day after the incident but have not been charged.

Early findings from examiners found that weight on his back, handcuffs and his positioning were all contributory factors as they prevented Mr Floyd's diaphragm from functioning properly.

Dr Michael Baden and the University of Michigan Medical School's director of autopsy and forensic services, Dr Allecia Wilson, handled the examination, according to family attorney Ben Crump.

“What we found is consistent with what people saw. There is no other health issue that could cause or contribute to the death,” Dr Baden said.

“Police have this false impression that if you can talk, you can breathe.

"That’s not true.”

The release also said that the evidence appears to show that Mr Floyd died at the scene.

"Sustained pressure on the right side of Mr Floyd's carotid artery impeded blood flow to the brain, and weight on his back impeded his ability to breathe," it read.

The family's procedure differs from the official post-mortem as described in a criminal complaint against the officer.

Read more: President Trump tells governors to 'dominate' protesters and 'put them in jail for 10 years'

That autopsy included the effects of being restrained, along with underlying health issues and potential intoxicants in Mr Floyd's system, but also said it found nothing "to support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation."

Mr Crump said last week that he was commissioning the family's own post-mortem.

Mr Floyd's family, like the families of other black men killed by police, wanted an independent look because they did not trust local authorities to produce an unbiased test.

His death, captured on citizen video, sparked days of violent protests in Minneapolis that have spread to cities around America.

In the emergency call that drew police, the caller described the man suspected of paying with counterfeit money as "awfully drunk and he's not in control of himself".

On Monday, Mr Crump called for the remaining three officers to be arrested and for the charge against Chauvin to be upgraded to first-degree murder.

Read more: Shop owner who called police on George Floyd says he won't again until they 'stop killing innocent people'

The head of the Minneapolis police union said in a letter to members that the officers were fired without due process and lawyers are fighting for their jobs.

Lieutenant Bob Kroll, the union president, also criticised the city leadership, saying a lack of support is to blame for the days of sometimes violent protests.

Mayor Jacob Frey said: "For a man who complains so frequently about a lack of community trust and support for the police department, Bob Kroll remains shockingly indifferent to his role in undermining that trust and support."

Meanwhile, George Floyd's brother, Terrence Floyd, told a crowd at a memorial for his sibling that the riots "will not bring my brother back".

He said: "My family is a peaceful family, my family is God-fearing.

"Educate yourself, don't wait for somebody else to tell you who's who... that's how we're gonna hit them... there's a lot of us... and we're still gonna do this peacefully."

Elsewhere, twenty-three people were arrested at a London protest held to pay tribute to the death of George Floyd amid calls for racial inequalities around the world to be addressed.

Police said the arrests on Sunday were made for a variety of offences, including for possession of an offensive weapon, assault on officers, obstructing a public carriageway and for coronavirus breaches.