Derek Chauvin trial continues Friday; medical examiner expected to testify

George Floyd mural

Kilkenny man is expert witness at Derek Chauvin murder trial in US

The medical examiner who performed the autopsy on George Floyd after last May's deadly arrest explained how he concluded the death was a homicide at the hands of police in testimony on Friday at former Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin's murder trial.

"The toe of his boot is no longer touching the ground, this means that all of his body weight is being directed down at Mr Floyd's neck", prosecution witness Dr Martin Tobin, a lung and critical care specialist, said.

On Friday, asked about the autopsy and Floyd's death certificate, Baker described the "top line of the cause of death" as "what you think is the most important thing that precipitated the death".

He explained that the drugs found in Floyd's system were part of the "significant conditions" assessment of the death certificate, meaning they played a role in his death but were not direct causes.

"Mr. Floyd's use of fentanyl did not cause the subdual or neck restraint. His heart disease did not cause the subdual or the neck restraint".

Mr Chauvin's defence team has tried to argue that Mr Floyd's use of methamphetamine and the opioid fentanyl lead to his death. "The street is playing the crucial part", Tobin said.

"Mr Floyd died from a low level of oxygen and this caused damage to his brain", Dr Tobin said.

"In my opinion, yes", Baker said.

In this image from video, Dr. Andrew Baker, Hennepin County Medical Examiner, testifies as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides, on April 9, 2021.

A medical expert who testified Thursday said a healthy person subjected to what Floyd endured would also have died.

Prosecutors also have presented testimony from four other medical experts to challenge Chauvin's defense against murder and manslaughter charges - that Floyd may have died of a drug overdose - and back up Baker's findings.

"I was aware that at least one video had gone viral on the internet, but I intentionally chose not to look at that until I had examined Mr Floyd", said Dr Baker.

She said she reached that conclusion mostly from video that showed Floyd struggling to breathe. "I did not want to bias my exam by going in with preconceived notions that might lead me down one pathway or another", Baker said.

A pulmonary expert has revealed that George Floyd was killed by lack of oxygen which was caused by the pressing of the knee into his neck while he was held down by the police officer. Most days a Floyd family member is present in the courtroom.

Documenting contributing conditions also can add to an understanding of public health, Dr. Lindsey Thomas, a forensic pathologist who retired in 2017 from the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office, testified Friday.

"It's going to ask your body for more oxygen so that you can get through that altercation", he said. "And that specifically those activities were the subdual, the restraint and the neck compression".

Thomas noted during her testimony that there is no evidence to suggest Floyd would have died that night in May 2020 except for his interaction with police.

And he said he did not notice any pills or pill fragments in Floyd's stomach.

Baker testified that neither Floyd's heart problems nor drugs caused his death: "Mr. Floyd's use of fentanyl did not cause the subdual or neck restraint".

Dr. Daniel Isenschmid said the toxicology tests he performed on Floyd's blood on behalf of the medical examiner found fentanyl, but at a level comparable to those found in samples taken from living people detained for driving under the influence of narcotics.

Tobin also pinpointed the precise moment Floyd died, pointing out to the jury the moment Floyd's eyes briefly widened and then closed in what Tobin said was Floyd's last conscious moment. Some were seen "flipping ahead looking at all the images". The woman said a relative texted her but she said she did not respond, the reports said.

"What was absolutely unique in this case was the volume of materials I had to review", Thomas said, referring to videos recorded on bystanders' cellphones and police body-worn cameras. They were fired the following day. This is to keep jurors free from outside influence that could impact deliberations and the outcome of the case.

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