George Floyd's Autopsy Report Explained

On May 25, 2020, 46-year-old George Perry Floyd Jr. walked into a Cup Foods grocery store in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and purchased a pack of cigarettes with a $20 bill. As reported by BBC, the teenage employee who processed the transaction thought the $20 bill looked suspicious and might be counterfeit. Per the store's protocol, he contacted authorities to report the incident. In his call to 911, the Cup Foods employee said he confronted Floyd about the authenticity of the $20 bill. However Floyd, who the teen described as appearing to be "drunk" and "not in control of himself," refused to return the cigarettes.

Authorities, who arrived on scene within minutes of the 911 call, found Floyd and two others sitting in a car, which was parked around the corner from the Cup Foods store. Although Floyd initially resisted, BBC reports he eventually calmed down and began complying with the officer's demands. However, he became combative once again when the officers attempted to place him in a squad car. BBC reports Floyd claimed he was claustrophobic and fell to the ground. At this time, Officer Derek Michael Chauvin arrived on scene to assist in the arrest. 

Although the officers eventually got Floyd to his feet, and once again attempted to place him in the squad car, Chauvin reportedly pulled Floyd away from the vehicle, which caused him to fall to the ground. In an effort to restrain Floyd, Chauvin placed his knee on the suspect's neck for more than nine minutes.

George Floyd had a pre-existing heart condition and a history of drug use

As reported by BBC, George Floyd pleaded with the officer to remove his knee from his neck, as he could not catch his breath. However, Derek Chauvin told him to "stop talking, yelling," because "It takes a heck of a lot of oxygen to talk." Within six minutes, Floyd appeared to be unresponsive. Although an ambulance was called and Floyd was rushed to the Hennepin County Medical Center, he never recovered and was pronounced dead.

Video footage of the incident, which was filmed by witnesses and widely shared on social media, sparked immediate outrage. In the video it appeared that Floyd's death was a direct result of Chauvin's decision to place his knee on Floyd's neck for what seemed to be an unusually long period of time. However, following the release of the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's autopsy report, it has been suggested that Floyd's history of drug use and a pre-existing heart condition may have contributed to his death.

In a press release provided by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's office, it was revealed that Floyd's cause of death was "Cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression" and that the manner of death was "homicide." Pathologist Andrew M. Baker, M.D., who conducted the autopsy (posted at Autopsy Files), confirmed Floyd "became unresponsive while being restrained by law enforcement officers" and that although he received emergency medical care, he was unable to be resuscitated.

Two separate medical examiners determined George Floyd's manner of death was homicide

In the autopsy report, Baker noted that George Floyd had a number of blunt force injuries to his elbows, forehead, face, hands, legs, lips, and shoulders. He also had areas of abraded contusions on his wrists, which were likely caused by the handcuffs. Floyd also had a broken rib, which was consistent with the performance of CPR.

As stated in the autopsy, Baker also concluded Floyd had a number of pre-existing medical conditions, including severe and multifocal arteriosclerotic heart disease, hypertensive heart disease, and a tumor in the left portion of his pelvis, which was Baker concluded was likely a extra-adrenal paraganglioma. It was also confirmed that Floyd had COVID-19 at the time of his death.

Floyd's toxicology report revealed he had fentanyl, methamphetamine, and THC in his blood at the time of his death. As stated in the press release, the medical examiner concluded Floyd had enough fentanyl in his blood to be considered intoxicated.

A second autopsy, which was conducted by an independent medical examiner hired by Floyd's family, also concluded his manner of death was homicide. However, the second autopsy listed the cause of death as "asphyxiation from sustained pressure" on his neck. As reported by CNN, the independent medical examiner concluded Floyd died when the blood flow to his brain was interrupted for an extended period of time.

Former officer Derek Chauvin was charged and convicted in George Floyd's death

CNN reports the Hennepin County Medical Examiner disputed the conclusion of the independent medical examiner, as he was unable to find any evidence "to support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation." Despite the different conclusions about what specifically caused George Floyd's death, both reports concluded Derek Chauvin's method of restraint was a significant factor and that the manner of death was homicide.

Derek Chauvin was ultimately arrested, charged, and convicted of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. As reported by AP News, he was subsequently sentenced to 22.5 years in prison. Although the recommended sentence was 12.5 years, Judge Peter Cahill said Chauvin's "abuse of a position of trust and authority and also the particular cruelty" warranted a harsher sentence.

In a separate case, CNN reports Chauvin pleaded guilty to federal charges of violating Floyd's civil rights. He is facing a sentence of 20 to 25 years, which will likely be served concurrently with the sentence he is currently serving on the state charges.