Minneapolis, MN – Attorneys for the family of George Floyd announced Monday that an independent autopsy conducted over the weekend conflicted with the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office’s preliminary determination that “the autopsy revealed no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation.”
Former Minneapolis Police Officer Chauvin was arrested on May 29 and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in connection with Floyd’s death during his arrest on May 25.
Chauvin was taken into custody by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension four days after the incident and held on a $500,000 bond, Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington announced, according to WCCO.
According to charging documents, the Hennepin County medical examiner’s preliminary report found no physical evidence that Floyd had suffered from asphyxiation or strangulation at the hands of the Minneapolis police.
The preliminary autopsy findings indicated Floyd had died from a combination of his underlying medical problems and possible substances.
“The combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death,” according to the complaint.
But veteran forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden told reporters on Monday that his independent autopsy of Floyd determined that the man had died of asphyxiation much in the same way Eric Garner died from a choke hold in New York in 2014, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
The Eric Garner autopsy report showed no damage to any area of his neck, and it was determined that he died of a medical emergency induced by officers who were arresting him. The medical examiner declared it was a homicide, but a grand jury refused to indict the officer on the theory that officers caused Garners death by arresting him.
Baden told reporters the main difference was that Garner died in 45 seconds so the medical examiner was able to immediately declare a homicide, whereas Floyd died about five minutes after he lost consciousness.
The veteran pathologist said he found evidence of mechanical or traumatic asphyxia the led to Floyd’s death while three Minneapolis police officers where holding him down.
Contrary to the Hennepin County medical examiner’s preliminary report, Baden said it didn’t matter whether Floyd had drugs or alcohol in his system when he died because it still would not be the cause of death.
The doctor also said Floyd was healthy and that he wished had a heart in as good of shape as the 46 year old had when he died.
This appears to directly contradict the preliminary medical examiner’s report.
Baden, who has worked with police departments on numerous high profile cases, pointed the blame for Floyd’s death squarely at the feet of the Minneapolis police.
“I’m very pro-police work in general, but there are more than a few rotten apples that come up in deaths during police restraints, and that has to come up and hopefully this will help do that,” he told reporters.
Baden was most recently in headlines for his assessment that Jeffrey Epstein did not commit suicide in his jail cell.
Floyd’s family’s attorney, Benjamin Crump, said they got a second opinion on the autopsy because the initial findings did “not address in detail the effect of the purposeful use of force on Mr. Floyd’s neck and the extent of Mr. Floyd’s suffering at the hands of the police.”
Crump, who represented the families of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin, is also currently representing the family of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia.
Floyd’s family accused Hennepin County officials of manipulating the autopsy results during the press conference announcing Baden’s findings.
Crump said they “are not surprised, yet we are tragically disappointed in the preliminary autopsy findings… We hope that this does not create a false narrative for the reason George Floyd died. Attempts to avoid the hard truth will not stand,” the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.
“The knee to the neck and the knees to his back both contributed to him not being able to get breath,” the attorney said. “And what those officers did that we see on the video is the cause of his death, not some underlying, unknown health condition.”
He said Floyd’s family was calling for the charges against Chauvin to be raised to first-degree murder.
First-degree murder would require proving a premeditated intent to kill.