George Floyd died Monday from a combination of preexisting health conditions exacerbated by being held down by Minneapolis officers, not from strangulation or asphyxiation, based on the medical examiner’s initial report.
Preliminary findings from a Tuesday autopsy conducted by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner found “no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxiation or strangulation,” according to the criminal complaint filed Friday against former officer Derek Michael Chauvin.
“Mr. Floyd had underlying health conditions including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease,” said the complaint from the Hennepin County Attorney. “The combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by police, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death.”
The Minneapolis police officer fired earlier this week was charged Friday with third-degree murder and manslaughter after kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Video showed he was unresponsive for the last 2 minutes and 53 seconds.
“Police are trained that this type of restraint with a subject in a prone position is inherently dangerous,” the complaint said.
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According to the filing, officers confronted Mr. Floyd after receiving a 911 call saying that he had paid for merchandise at Cup Foods with a phony $20 bill. They found him nearby in his vehicle with an adult male and female.
Mr. Floyd, who was six feet tall and weighed over 200 pounds, was handcuffed and led to the squad car, but resisted getting inside, saying he was claustrophobic.
While standing, he said repeatedly he couldn’t breathe. Mr. Floyd struggled as officers tried to force him into the car and fell to the ground. Two officers held him down while Officer Chauvin pressed his knee on the suspect’s neck.
Mr. Floyd said “I can’t breathe” multiple times, as well as “Mama” and “please.” After he stopped moving, an officer checked for his pulse and said, “I couldn’t find one.”
“None of the officers moved from their positions,” the complaint said. About two minutes later, Officer Chauvin removed his knee.
Mr. Floyd was transported by ambulance to the Hennepin County Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
His death touched off three nights of protests and unrest in Minneapolis, where rioters burned down the 3rd police precinct and other buildings, as well as other U.S. cities.
The full medical examiner’s report is pending.