news

Two autopsies, two different stories: What George Floyd's second autopsy revealed.

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.

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The evidence is consistent with mechanical asphyxia as cause of death and homicide as manner of death,” said Dr. Allecia Wilson of the University of Michigan, one of the two forensic doctors who performed an independent autopsy.

george floyd death
Protesters march through the streets while demonstrating against the death of George Floyd. Image: Getty.

Bystander video showed Floyd pleading to be let up and saying repeatedly that he couldn't breath, as police officer Derek Chauvin kept his knee firmly pinned into Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes. Two other officers applied pressure with their knees to Floyd's back.

Dr. Michael Baden, who also took part in the independent autopsy at the behest of Floyd's family, said the two other officers' actions also caused Floyd to stop breathing.

"We can see after a little bit less than four minutes that Mr. Floyd is motionless, lifeless," Baden said.

Chauvin, who is white and has been fired from the Minneapolis police department, was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter last week. The two other officers were also fired, but not charged.

Shortly after the family's independent autopsy findings were released, the medical examiner’s office in Hennepin County, Minnesota, announced an updated autopsy result in which they said Floyd's death was a homicide.

The updated autopsy said Floyd's cause of death was "cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restrain, and neck compression". This means Floyd's heart failed.

It further acknowledged that Floyd died from experiencing a “cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained by law enforcement officer(s)".


Sign up for the "Mamamia Daily" newsletter. Get across the stories women are talking about today.


00:00 / ???