What did George Floyd die of? This question may seem superfluous to many who have seen the images of the agony of the African-American forty-something, held down for 9 minutes and 29 seconds below the knee of the police officer Derek Chauvin, in May 2020, in a street of Minneapolis. . Yet it is at the heart of the trial of the police officer charged with murder and manslaughter.
For medical experts, questioned for long hours in recent days, the answer is beyond doubt. Coming from different backgrounds, stakeholders in the case or independent consultants, the professionals who have taken the witness stand all pointed to death by asphyxiation, due to the pressure exerted by the police on the neck and back of the victim. .
Day after day, the defense lawyer strives to instill “a reasonable doubt” in the minds of the jurors.
But, in the defense of Mr. Chauvin, the question remains open. It is even one of the key elements of a case which, after two weeks of hearing and the testimony of several dozen people summoned by the prosecution, has regularly proved overwhelming for the accused. With calm and tenacity, Eric Nelson, the lawyer for the police officer, who leads the interrogations alone, intends to demonstrate that the general state of health of the victim and his addiction to opiates played a determining role in his death. Day after day, anxious to clear his client’s customs, he therefore strives to instill “a reasonable doubt” in the minds of the jurors, who will have to rule unanimously during the verdict.
Examination of “circumstances”
In this context, one of the testimonies was particularly awaited, Friday April 9. Andrew Baker, the county’s chief medical examiner who performed the autopsy on George Floyd, had concluded a death by “Cardiac and pulmonary arrest”, due to its immobilization by the police. He had called death “Homicide”, “In the medical sense of the term”, that is, a death caused by another person. He said at the stand that he had not viewed the images of Mr. Floyd’s agony which were already circulating on social networks before performing the autopsy, so as not to “Bias one’s examination”.
But the experienced doctor had also pointed out in his report “Conditions” having been able ” to contribute “ death, including the presence of drugs in the body, arteriosclerosis and high blood pressure. Elements on which the defense has relied since the start of the trial and which it intends to develop in the coming days by summoning its experts to the bar.
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