Derek Chauvin trial continues Friday; medical examiner expected to testify

Dr. Andrew Baker Hennepin County Medical Examiner

Dr. Andrew Baker Hennepin County Medical Examiner

George Floyd died of a lack of oxygen from the way he was held down by police, a retired forensic pathologist testified Friday at former Officer Derek Chauvin's murder trial.

Chauvin's defence team claim Mr Floyd's drug use or heart disease killed him.

"And in my opinion, the law enforcement subdual, restraint and the neck compression was just more than Mr Floyd could take by virtue of that, those heart conditions", he said.

"There was nothing sudden about his death", Thomas told the jury, challenging a defense argument that Floyd's underlying health problems may have led to a heart attack. "What would you conclude to be the cause of death?"

Chauvin's attorney has repeatedly shown the jury still images from the video that he said depicted the officer's knee on Mr Floyd's shoulder blade, not his neck. "His heart disease did not cause the subdual or the neck restraint".

Prosecutors are trying to prove Mr Chauvin's use of force resulted in Mr Floyd's death, while Mr Chauvin's defence are seeking to show he was following his training and that drugs may have caused Mr Floyd's death. "The street is playing the crucial part", Tobin said. While Floyd had fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system and had resisted police, he had been on the pavement for over nine minutes, prone and handcuffed, while Chauvin continued the pressure - ignoring cries from bystanders that Floyd appeared to be dying.

Andrew Baker is expected to testify.

"Yes, I would still classify it as homicide today", he said.

Meanwhile, the 45-year-old officer has denied charges of second and third-degree murder and manslaughter.

The lack of oxygen is what caused Floyd's heart to stop, leading to his death. The teenager whose video of the arrest went viral said "it's been nights I stay up apologising and apologising to George Floyd for not doing more".

A toxicology report released last June said that Mr Floyd had the painkiller fentanyl and the drug methamphetamine in his system.

The wounds were "consistent with what it looks like on the video, that he's struggling to push himself into a position where he can breathe", she said.

She agreed with Baker's listing of Floyd's cause of death, saying "the primary mechanism of death is asphyxia, or low oxygen".

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Baker's much anticipated testimony Friday also revealed that he found bruising and abrasions on the left side of Floyd's face.

Mr Floyd was restrained by a total of three officers. "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.

Floyd did have severe heart disease, an enlarged heart and narrowing of two arteries.

The upshot of this segment was later clarified during redirect after Nelson asked whether fentanyl can "cause a death as a result of low oxygen".

Why does that additional information belong on a death certificate? Floyd's death prompted protests against racism and police brutality in many cities in the United States and around the world.

While physically examining a body can be helpful in determining a cause of death, she explained that other records and inquiries could sometimes be even more illuminating. And it was not slow like one would see with fentanyl, where "the death is slow, it's peaceful, they fall asleep".

TOBIN: "We're seeing that the level of oxygen has gone down to zero".

One pool reporter observed all jurors looking through the photos.

Also on Friday, Judge Peter Cahill called in a juror and questioned her about whether she had been subject to any outside influences.

The judge also asked the woman if she'd had contact with any family members about the case. "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. She and Baker are friends and former colleagues, she said.

All three doctors called by prosecutors from the Minnesota Attorney General's Office pointed to different moments from the video that they said undermined Chauvin's defense.

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