Medical expert: Chauvin's knee did not injure Floyd

Dr. David Fowler

Dr. David Fowler

Fowler appeared to dispute at least some of the findings of Dr. Andrew Baker, Hennepin County's chief medical examiner, who ruled Floyd's death a homicide caused by Chauvin and other officers restraining Floyd in a way that starved his body of oxygen.

Fowler and his assistant "intentionally concealed police responsibility in causing Anton Black's painful death, and instead falsely ruled, on behalf of the State of Maryland, that a Black teenager who died through asphyxiation at the hands of four white men resulted from "natural causes, ' or 'accident" thereby improperly insulating police officials from responsibility for Anton's death", the lawsuit says.

Eric Nelson, Chauvin's lead lawyer, asked Fowler if Floyd died in a homicide or by some other manner.

Testifying could open him up to devastating cross-examination, with prosecutors replaying the video of Floyd's arrest and forcing Chauvin, one freeze-frame moment at a time, to explain why he kept pressing down on Floyd. He got Fowler to acknowledge that even someone who dies from being deprived of oxygen ultimately dies of an arrhythmia. Blackwell further accused Fowler of jumping to conclusions and suggesting to the jury that Floyd had a white pill in his mouth in the video of his arrest. Dr Baker, the chief medical examiner who certified Mr Floyd's death, told the jury he stands by his findings.

Blackwell also attacked Fowler's testimony about carbon monoxide, which displaces oxygen in the bloodstream.

A medical examiner's report that Fowler signed said that Black's death was an accident caused by his heart issues.

"You haven't seen any data or test results that showed Mr. Floyd had a single injury from carbon monoxide".

"I certainly don't have medical degrees, but I was always trained and feel it's a reasonable assumption that if somebody's, 'I'm choking, I'm choking, ' well, you're not choking because you can breathe", he said.

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"Are you critical of the fact that he wasn't given immediate emergency care when he went into cardiac arrest?" asked Blackwell.

Fowler's testimony differs from that of medical experts called by the prosecution. A cardiology expert rejected the notion that Floyd died of heart problems, saying all indications were that he had "an exceptionally strong heart".

Dr Fowler said the way Mr Floyd struggled with police trying to get him into their vehicle may have caused stress that led to cardiac arrhythmia.

"The bottom line is, moving air in and out, and speaking and making noise is very good evidence that the airway was not closed", Dr Fowler said. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd.

"Immediate medical attention ... may well reverse that process, yes", Fowler answered. Chauvin is facing murder and manslaughter charges.

Barry Brodd, a use-of-force expert hired by Chauvin's defense, told the court that placing a suspect stomach-down on the pavement is a "control technique" and not use of force because it does not cause pain.

The PBS NewsHour will update this story as it develops.

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