An independent autopsy on George Floyd conducted at the request of his family has concluded his cause of death was “homicide caused by asphyxia due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain.”
The report by Dr. Michael Baden and Dr. Allecia Wilson concluded Floyd likely died at the scene. Baden formerly worked as New York City’s chief medical examiner and conducted the autopsy of Eric Garner, a Black man who was put in a fatal chokehold by police in 2014.
The doctors found that weight on Floyd’s back from other officers, handcuffs and his positioning all also contributed to his death by impairing the proper function of his diaphragm.
“What we found is consistent with what people saw,” Dr. Baden said in an emailed release. “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.”
While a preliminary report from the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office initially said in a criminal complaint against officer Derek Chauvin that “no physical findings” supported “a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation,” the county’s full autopsy, released Monday, concurred with the independent report.
The county’s report ruled Floyd’s death a homicide attributed to “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.”
Chauvin, the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck, was taken into custody last Friday by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said. The police were responding to a call that someone had attempted to pass a counterfeit $20 bill.
Outrage over Floyd’s death has sparked a wave of protests across the country, some of them violent. Family attorney Ben Crump ended his statement on the autopsy results with an appeal for calm.
“We understand the righteous anger we see playing out on streets across the country,” Crump said. “We support the activism and energy of the people who want to make sure we achieve change, and we hope those efforts continue, but looting and violence are absolutely unacceptable.”
“They were unacceptable to George, and they must be unacceptable to us,” he said. “The way to honor George is to achieve justice. As a country, we need to take a deep breath. George Floyd wasn’t allowed that, but we must.”