I previously wrote that the key to conviction in the Derek Chauvin study (and avoiding cascade failure in all four cases) is the autopsy results and the role of drugs (including fentanyl) in George Floyd’s body. Prosecutors are now urging the jury to effectively reject the results of the only official autopsy in the case, and, contrary to those results, insist that Floyd died of suffocation or lack of oxygen. Some new information could complicate this claim for prosecutors.
Last week, Special Attorney Jerry Blackwell admitted to the jury that Hennepin County’s chief medical officer, Dr. Andrew Baker, pointed out cardiac arrest when Floyd pointed out the cause of death. However, he insisted that the state would prove that it was “not a fatal cardiac event” but rather asphyxiation.
It’s a bold move as it could raise reasonable doubts about the cause of death. The question is whether a manslaughter case could have been brought without the state medical examiner having to oppose such findings. Chauvin’s failure to respond to a medical emergency suggests manslaughter more than murder, but could be reconciled with these findings. Instead, prosecutors asked the jury to effectively reject the coroner’s findings – a risky maneuver.
We previously discussed key elements of defense in this case:
►When Floyd received a local call for allegedly passing on counterfeit money, Floyd refused to use drugs, but later said he was “mature” or on drugs.
►The autopsy did not reveal that Floyd died of asphyxiation (although a family pathologist made this finding). Rather, it found that “there is a cardiopulmonary arrest while being held back by law enforcement officers”. The state’s criminal complaint against Chauvin said the autopsy “did not reveal any physical findings to support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxiation or strangulation. Mr. Floyd had underlying health conditions including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease. “He was also COVID-19 positive.
Andrew Baker, Hennepin County’s chief medical officer, strongly suggested that the main cause was a large amount of fentanyl in Floyd’s system: “Fentanyl at 11 ng / ml – this is higher than in (a) chronic pain patients. If he was found dead at home alone with no other obvious cause, this might be acceptable to call an OD (overdose). Deaths were certified with a level of 3. Baker also told investigators that the autopsy did not reveal any physical evidence that Floyd had died of asphyxiation.
► The Toxicological Report on Floyd’s Blood also found that “in fentanyl deaths, blood concentrations are variable and are only 3 ng / ml.” Floyd had almost four times the level of fentanyl that was believed to be potentially fatal.
►Floyd in particular said repeatedly that he could not breathe while sitting in the police cruiser and before he was ever pinned to the ground. This is in line with the level of fentanyl in his system, which can lead to “slowing or stopping breathing”.
►Floyd’s lungs were two to three times their normal size and filled with fluid. “Pulmonary edema is a condition caused by excess fluid in the lungs,” which, according to the Mayo Clinic, is symptomatic of an opioid overdose. It should be noted, however, that the Mayo Clinic report also covers “non-cardiac (non-cardiogenic) pulmonary edema” and “negative pressure pulmonary edema,” which could be used to support the prosecution’s theory.
► Finally, the reluctance of an uncooperative suspect with an officer’s knee was part of officer training and the jury watched training videos using the same type of reluctance as the official policy.
What is interesting is that the prosecution hires experts as if they were bringing up a defense case. It is usually the defense that leads a multitude of doctors to question official autopsy results. Here, however, the state doctor’s findings contradict the case of the public prosecutor’s office.
Conversely, Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, sounds more like your typical prosecutor stating that there is only one official autopsy and one official cause of death report. He told the jury: “Dr. Baker found none of the so-called tell-tale signs of suffocation. There was no evidence that Mr Floyd’s airflow was restricted and he did not find it [it] be a positional or mechanical death from suffocation. “
Nelson can rely on other aspects of the official record. When Baker discussed the results in a meeting with the Minnesota Attorney General in December last year, he stated explicitly that the knee brace was unlikely to induce suffocation: “[I]Dr. Baker didn’t seem to know that the pressure on the neck is coming from the back or the posterior sides of the back, and none of these constrictions would affect breathing or cause unconsciousness, ”a document summarized the meeting. He noted one study that found that putting on 200 pounds or more on a healthy person had no “observable impact on breathing.”
Instead, Baker cited the drugs in the system as well as the 75-80% narrowing of the coronary arteries that “exposed him to sudden cardiac arrest”. The recording of the meeting reads: “Dr. Baker offered that one possibility in the path of Floyd’s death is that Floyd’s heart began to fail due to the stress, drugs, enlarged heart, and death [heart] Illness . . . He said that once the heart starts to fail, one of the symptoms is a perception that you cannot breathe. “
After these results were published, Baker’s office was placed under police protection for threats against him and his staff.
By focusing the jury on the autopsy report and asking them to effectively reject the conclusions of the only official report, the prosecution increases the chances of a hanging jury and even an acquittal. I have previously expressed reservations about the murder allegation claim as the case is better suited to homicide. If a jury believes that the prosecution has overburdened a case, it can lead to a loss of credibility. If you add an argument to reject the state autopsy results, you risk adding to that skepticism or distrust of the judges.