Floyd died shortly after his neck was strangled by white Minneapolis police with his knee on Monday last week. His death sparked protests across the country, some of which was colored by riots.
The doctors also said Floyd did not have an underlying medical condition that contributed to his death, and he was likely to die before he was put in an ambulance.
The conclusions of these two doctors contradict the initial findings of an official autopsy by Hennepin County Medical Examiner, which was cited in a document filing a lawsuit against police officers who choked Floyd’s neck with his knee for several minutes.
The initial findings said there was no evidence of traumatic strangulation. The findings also said coronary artery disease and hypertension might also contribute to Floyd’s death. The complete autopsy report of Hennepin County Medical Examiners has not been released.
“The evidence is consistent with mechanical asphyxia as a cause of death and murder as a way of death,” said Dr. Allecia Wilson of the University of Michigan, one of two forensic doctors who performed independent autopsies, as quoted. Reuters, Tuesday (2/6/2020).
A video shows Floyd begging to be released and said repeatedly that he could not breathe when a police officer Derek Chauvin used his knee to choke Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes. Two other officers also pressed Floyd’s back with knees.
Chauvin, who is white and has been fired from the Minneapolis Police Department, is charged with third-degree murder.
Dr Michael Baden, who also took part in an independent autopsy at the request of Floyd’s family, said that the actions of two other police officers also caused Floyd to stop breathing.
“We can see after less than four minutes that Floyd is not moving, lifeless,” Baden said, adding that he had not found a health condition that caused Floyd’s death.
Baden has handled several famous cases, including the death of Eric Garner in 2014, a black man who died after being strangled by police in New York City. (Read: Viral, Indonesian Map Tattooed Man Joining Pro George Floyd’s Parallel Demo in the US)
Baden dismissed the argument that if Floyd could talk he could breathe. “Many police get the impression that if you can talk, it means you are breathing. That’s not true,” Baden said. “I am speaking now in front of you and not taking a breath.”
Antonio Romanucci, one of the lawyers representing Floyd’s family, said that the four police officers at the scene had to face charges, not just Chauvin.
“It was not only the knee on George (Floyd) ‘s neck that was the cause of his death, but also the weight of the other two police officers on his back, which not only prevented blood flow to his brain, but air flowed into his lungs,” Romanucci said. “That makes all officers at the scene criminally responsible.”
Ben Crump, chief lawyer for the Floyd family, said an independent autopsy and video evidence made it clear that Floyd had died while he was still lying on the road with the police in his body.
“The ambulance was his hearse,” he said.
Crump said Floyd’s family wanted to see the charges brought against the four police officers who were at the scene, and that Chauvin who was strangling Floyd’s neck, would face first-degree murder charges.
But the Floyd family also wants an end to the violent protests that have engulfed the United States.
“George died because he needed breath, breathing air,” said Crump. “I implore all of you to join his family in taking a breath, taking a breath for justice, taking a breath for peace.”