The Hennepin County Medical Examiner released a full autopsy Wednesday in the case of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was allegedly murdered by Minneapolis police officers on Memorial Day.
The 20-page report was released with the permission of Floyd’s family and determined that Floyd’s heart stopped while being restrained by officers. A summary of the findings released earlier this week listed the “manner of death” as a homicide, but the coroner’s office said that a manner of death classification is “a statutory function of the medical examiner.”
“Manner of death is not a legal determination of culpability or intent, and should not be used to usurp the judicial process. Such decisions are outside the scope of the Medical Examiner’s role or authority,” said the summary.
Chief Medical Examiner Andrew Baker revealed in his full report that Floyd had tested positive for the coronavirus, but said the “autopsy result most likely reflects asymptomatic but persistent” positivity for the virus. Floyd was known to have the virus on April 3, Baker said.
A toxicology screening found that Floyd’s blood demonstrated “fentanyl intoxication” and “recent methamphetamine use.” The full report’s footnotes noted that signs of fentanyl toxicity can include “severe respiratory depression” and seizures.
The autopsy identified blunt force injuries “of the forehead, face, and upper lip” as well as “the shoulders, hands, elbows, and legs.” Under “natural diseases,” the medical examiner listed “arteriosclerotic heart disease,” “hypertensive heart disease,” and a “left pelvic tumor.”
Floyd family attorney, Ben Crump, earlier decried the official autopsy – as described in the original complaint against ex-officer Derek Chauvin – for ruling out asphyxia. An autopsy commissioned by the Floyd family concluded that he died of asphyxiation due to neck and back compression.
Crump discussed the findings of the independent autopsy during a Monday press conference, saying the ambulance that responded to the scene was Floyd’s “hearse.”
“Peace is not the absence of tension but the presence of justice. We believe truth will help lead to justice,” said Crump. “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 kneeing him in his back.”
“Based on all apparent evidence, George was dead on that scene,” he added.
The criminal complaint filed against Chauvin said that his actions were “a substantial causal factor in Mr. Floyd losing consciousness, constituting substantial bodily harm, and Mr. Floyd’s death as well.”
“The Medical Examiner opined that the effects of the officers’ restraint of Mr. Floyd, his underlying health conditions, and the presence of drugs contributed to his death,” said the complaint.
Attorney General Keith Ellison announced that he has charged Chauvin with second-degree murder in addition to the third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges. The three other officers involved in the incident were charged for the first time Wednesday and arrested.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report. Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun and The Ohio Star. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “George Floyd Memorial” by Lorie Shaull. CC BY-SA 2.0.