Washington, Jun 1 (efe-epa).- The independent autopsy ordered by the family of George Floyd, the African American man who died exactly a week ago while being arrested by white Minneapolis cops, confirms that he lost his life from “asphyxiation from sustained pressure.”
According to the forensic exam, “neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain” was found to be the cause of death, Floyd family attorney Benjamin Crump, who specializes in civil rights cases, said at a press conference on Monday.
The autopsy was conducted by forensic pathologists Drs. Michael Baden and Allecia Wilson, and they said in their report that “weight on the back, handcuffs and positioning were contributory factors because they impaired the ability of Mr. Floyd’s diaphragm to function.”
The 46-year-old Floyd died on May 25 when a Minneapolis police officer – Derek Chauvin – knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes after Floyd had been handcuffed and placed facedown on the pavement. During the first several minutes, Floyd complained that he could not breathe and pleaded for help, but then he lost consciousness, although Chauvin remained kneeling on his neck for another several minutes.
Passersby made videos of the incident with their cellphones, begged the officers to stop kneeling on Floyd – to no avail – and posted the videos to the social networks, and these recordings show Chauvin kneeling with his full body weight on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes both before and after he lost consciousness.
The videos went viral and have sparked days – and nights – of protests, rioting and looting in most major US cities, including Minneapolis.
Police had been called to the scene after a local store owner called police to report that Floyd had allegedly tried to pass a fake $20 bill.
Baden and Wilson’s autopsy results stand in contrast to those from a preliminary autopsy by authorities released last week, which found “no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation.”
That official report suggested that Floyd’s health status, including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease, combined with being restrained by the police and “potential intoxicants in his system” had all contributed to his death.
Questions initially had been raised by various commentators as to why, if Floyd could not breathe, he had been able to say anything at all.
But Baden – who is the former chief medical examiner of New York City – said that “What we found is consistent with what people saw,” adding that “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.”
Meanwhile, Chauvin and the other three responding officers were all fired by the Minneapolis Police Department last week, and Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, although authorities say that other charges against him and the other officers may also be filed.
At the Monday press conference at which the family autopsy results were announced, it was also announced that a wake will be held in Houston – where the family lives – on June 8, and Floyd’s funeral on June 9.
Before that, however, on June 4, funeral services will be held in Minneapolis, where Floyd was living when he died, and also in North Carolina, where he was born, on June 6.