MINNEAPOLIS – An autopsy commissioned by George Floyd’s family determined that “asphyxiation from sustained pressure was the cause” of Floyd’s death in an incident that has sparked tense protests and violence across the nation.
Dr. Michael Baden and Dr. Allecia Wilson performed the autopsy and said there was “neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain,” Floyd family attorney Benjamin Crump said Monday.
They added that “weight on the back, handcuffs and positioning were contributory factors because they impaired the ability of Mr. Floyd’s diaphragm to function.”
Floyd, 46, died May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck for several minutes while he was handcuffed on the ground, crying that he couldn’t breathe and pleading for help.
The results of the family’s autopsy differ from a preliminary autopsy report as described in a criminal complaint against the officer charged in Floyd’s death, Derek Chauvin, which was released last week.
That autopsy found “no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation,” according to the document, which suggests Floyd’s existing health conditions – coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease – combined with being restrained by police and any “potential intoxicants in his system” contributed to his death.
Bystanders, who begged officers on the scene to intervene, recorded Floyd’s death on video and shared the images on social media. After they went viral, Floyd’s death sparked a week of protests in Minneapolis and most major U.S. cities.
Floyd was taken into custody under the suspicion of trying to use a forged $20 bill.
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Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. He is in custody in a state prison. Three other officers who were on the scene have not been detained or charged with any crimes. All four officers were fired the day after Floyd’s death.
Gov. Tim Walz said Sunday that Attorney General Keith Ellison would lead prosecutions in Floyd’s death.
“We are going to bring to bear all the resources necessary to achieve justice in this case,” Ellison said in a news conference.
Activists have pressed Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman to charge the other three officers and have demonstrated outside his house.
Crump called for Chauvin’s charge to be elevated to first-degree murder and for the other three officers involved at the scene to be arrested.
“What we must have is equal justice for the United States of America,” Crump said. “The family implores Attorney General Ellison to make equal justice real for black people in 2020 with getting those officers arrested immediately and charged to the fullest extent of the law so that we can believe that there is one justice system in America.”