At 9:25 p.m on Monday, May 25, George Floyd died in the custody of the Minneapolis police.
That night, an officer had handcuffed the black man for allegedly trying to use a fake $20 bill, before holding him down with a knee on his neck for almost nine minutes, as Floyd pleaded that he could not breathe.
Floyd was pronounced dead in hospital a short time later.
The 46-year-old man’s death has triggered protests across America, as the nation responds to the irrefutable injustice black citizens continue to experience at the hands of authorities.
In the days since Floyd’s passing, two contradicting accounts have emerged about the exact cause of his death.
Listen: ‘I Can’t Breathe’: George Floyd’s Final Words Echo An Australian Shame. post continues below audio.
The official autopsy by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner, which was cited in the court charging document against the police officer who drove his knee into Floyd’s neck, said there was no evidence of traumatic strangulation.
It also stated that possible substances in Floyd’s system and underlying medical conditions, including coronary artery disease and hypertension, likely contributed to Floyd’s death.
However, on Monday afternoon in America, an independent autopsy presented by the lawyers representing Floyd’s family said his death was a homicide and therefore stated the three officers on the scene should be held criminally responsible.
“What you see on the video is exactly what happened,” Floyd family attorney asserts. “Those police officers were the proximate cause of George Floyd’s death.”
— ABC News (@ABC) June 1, 2020
The independent autopsy states Floyd died by “homicide caused by asphyxia due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain”.
The two doctors hired by Floyd’s family to conduct the independent autopsy found no underlying health conditions in Floyd that caused his death, finding he instead died from asphyxiation – essentially suffocation. They said he was likely dead before he was placed into an ambulance.