George Floyd: medical examiner says death was a homicide

Report comes as the family releases results of a private autopsy which determined the cause of death as asphyxiation

A medical examiner has classified George Floyd’s death as a homicide, saying his heart stopped as police restrained him and suppressed his neck.

“Decedent experienced a cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained by law enforcement officer(s),” the Hennepin county medical examiner’s office said in a news release. Cause of death was listed as cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint and neck compression.

Under “other significant conditions”, it said, Floyd suffered from heart disease and hypertension, and listed fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use.

The news comes as the family of George Floyd released the results of a private autopsy, with pathologists concluding that the cause of death was asphyxiation from sustained pressure.

The autopsy, by a doctor who also examined Eric Garner’s body, found the compression cut off blood to Floyd’s brain, and that the pressure of other officers’ knees on his back made it impossible for him to breathe.

Bystander video shows the now-fired police officer Derek Chauvin holding his knee on Floyd’s neck despite the man’s cries that he can’t breathe until he eventually stopped moving.

The video has sparked a wave of protests across the US in the week since Floyd’s death.

The family wants Chauvin, who was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter last Friday, and the three officers who also detained Floyd but have yet to be arrested or charged, all to be charged with first-degree murder.

Last week an official autopsy by the Hennepin county medical examiner, covering the jurisdiction where Floyd died, gave preliminary results that found cause of death to be the “combined effects of Mr Floyd’s being restrained by police, underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system”.

The Hennepin county’s preliminary report sparked widespread backlash across the country for saying the examiner found “no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxiation or strangulation”.

The announcement of the updated report emphasized that its finding is “not a legal determination of culpability or intent”.

So far, spokespeople for the medical examiner’s office in Minneapolis have not commented on why its new report has concluded that Floyd’s death was a homicide.

The lead attorney for Floyd’s family, Ben Crump, released the news of the private autopsy ahead of a press briefing in Minneapolis on Monday, where Floyd died a week ago.

The family’s autopsy was conducted by Michael Baden and Allecia Wilson. Baden is the former chief medical examiner of New York City, who was hired to conduct an autopsy of Eric Garner, a black man who died in 2014 after New York police placed him in a chokehold and he pleaded that he could not breathe.

Baden and Wilson found that weight being applied to Floyd’s back, his hands being cuffed behind his back and the position of his body, where he was also at times being restrained by other officers as he lay on the ground, “were contributory factors because they impaired the ability of Mr Floyd’s diaphragm to function”.

Baden said: “What we found is consistent with what people saw. There is no other health issue that could cause or contribute to the death.”

The pathologists believe Floyd died at the scene. Crump said: “For George Floyd, the ambulance was his hearse.”

In numerous high-profile cases of killings by police, charges were not filed even after the government autopsy reports have ruled the deaths a homicide. Floyd’s family and people across the US have urged prosecutors in Minnesota to file charges against the three other officers who were present for the killing.

A public memorial is planned for Floyd in Minneapolis on Thursday. He was originally from Houston, Texas, and there are plans for that city to be his final resting place, with details to be confirmed.

Agencies contributed reporting


Sam Levin and Joanna Walters

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
George Floyd killing: sister says officers should face murder charge as protests grow
Street protests break out in Minneapolis and Los Angeles after Bridget Floyd says police officers involved ‘should be in jail’

Joanna Walters and Jackie Renzetti

28, May, 2020 @2:57 AM

Article image
Derek Chauvin found guilty of murder of George Floyd
Jury finds ex-Minneapolis police officer, who knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, guilty on all counts

Chris McGreal, Lois Beckett, Oliver Laughland and Amudalat Ajasa in Minneapolis

21, Apr, 2021 @7:42 AM

Article image
George Floyd: curfews fail to deter a new wave of protests across US
Demonstrations expand to yet more US cities as protesters defy curfew and orders to disperse

Chris McGreal in Minneapolis, Julian Borger in Washington, Sam Levin in Los Angeles and Maanvi Singh in San Francisco

01, Jun, 2020 @5:02 AM

Article image
George Floyd: police forcefully crack down on protests across US – as it happened
Protests rock cities across US as anger over killing spreads, while cities impose curfews

Michael Safi (now) and Sam Levin in Los Angeles, Tom Lutz and Martin Pengelly in New York (earlier)

31, May, 2020 @12:19 PM

Article image
George Floyd: fires burn near White House as US-wide protests rage – as it happened
Washington Monument surrounded by smoke from fires as protesters defy curfews and face off with police

Michael Safi (now); Lois Beckett, Tom Lutz and Martin Pengelly (earlier)

01, Jun, 2020 @11:41 AM

Article image
Brother of George Floyd calls for death penalty for police involved
Philonise Floyd said: ‘They need to be convicted and get the death penalty’ while family could meet with prosecutor as early as today

Joanna Walters in New York

28, May, 2020 @12:47 PM

Article image
George Floyd killing: DoJ says inquiry a 'top priority' after thousands protest
FBI prosecutors and investigators assigned as part of ‘robust’ inquiry while protests followed George Floyd’s killing by police on Monday

Jackie Renzetti in Minneapolis and agencies

28, May, 2020 @6:33 PM

Article image
'He'll change the world': George Floyd's family pays emotional tribute as crowds flock to funeral
Floyd laid to rest in hometown after killing by police in Minneapolis, as dozens outside service wear T-shirts reading ‘I can’t breathe’ and ‘Black Lives Matter’

Vivian Ho in Houston

09, Jun, 2020 @11:03 PM

Article image
Daunte Wright and George Floyd: another chapter in America’s recurring tragedy
The latest instance of a black man killed by a police officer added fuel to the fire already burning in Minneapolis

Oliver Laughland and Amudalat Ajasa in Minneapolis

18, Apr, 2021 @6:00 AM

Article image
George Floyd: protests and unrest coast to coast as US cities impose curfews
Saturday’s protests come after a volatile night in which anger around police brutality erupted into violence across the US

Richard Luscombe in Miami, Chris McGreal in Minneapolis, Sam Levin in Los Angeles, Julia Carrie Wong in Oakland and David Smith in Washington

31, May, 2020 @7:42 AM