ST. PAUL — Two new autopsy reports from both local and independent medical teams have ruled George Floyd's death a homicide by asphyxia, due to pressure on his neck and back by police officers.
Floyd, a Black man from St. Louis Park, died on May 25 in Minneapolis while being restrained by Minneapolis police. Video footage shows Derek Chauvin, a white officer, kneeling on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes. Two other officers were also recorded putting additional weight on Floyd's back with their knees.
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office said in a preliminary report that their autopsy showed Floyd died due to a combination of asphyxia and underlying medical conditions. But a week later, Drs. Michael Baden and Allecia Wilson said they disagree with Hennepin County's initial findings.
In their independently conducted autopsy of Floyd, they conclude that he died by homicide, caused by asphyxia due to weight on his neck cutting off blood circulation to his brain, and weight on his back compressing his lungs, rendering him unable to breathe.
Hours after the independent report was released later, Hennepin County Medical Examiners released an updated autopsy report echoing the independent doctors, also labeling Floyd's death a homicide. They reported he died due to "cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained by law enforcement officer(s)." The county also said Floyd had underlying health conditions, and that a toxicology report showed fentanyl in his system when he died, as well as recent methamphetamine use.
Chicago-based lawyer Tony Romanucci, who is co-counsel on Floyd's case, said at Monday's news conference that, "What this really was was the weight of the Minneapolis Police Department on George's neck."
"Make no mistake about it: This case is about the Minneapolis Police Department and Derek Chauvin and the shameless standby police officers who were on scene, who had every opportunity to stop and prevent a senseless death, a needless one," Romanucci said. "They were compliant."
According to Hennepin County records, Floyd did not have a pulse when EMTs arrived on the scene of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue last Monday. CPR administered to him was unsuccessful. He was pronounced dead later at the hospital.
But Baden and Wilson take issue with Floyd's recorded time of death: They said they suspect he died on the scene.
Florida-based attorney Ben Crump said Monday that "the ambulance was a hearse." Crump is representing Floyd's family, and has represented several other families of unarmed black people who were killed by police or others, including Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Tamir Rice.
Crump added Monday that he and Floyd's family was "relieved" to hear that Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz had handed the criminal case over from the Hennepin County Attorney's Office to state Attorney General Keith Ellison, saying that they "distrust" local authorities. He said Ellison "is a welcomed prosecutor to zealously prosecute this case."
"We think Keith Ellison has understood his whole career that there are two justice systems in America, unfortunately: one for Black America and one for White America," Crump said. "The family implores Attorney General Ellison to make equi-justice real for Black people in 2020."