The pathologist claims George Floyd’s heart was the cause of death as Derek Chauvin’s defense tries to cast doubt on the jury.
the defense Former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin called a medical examiner to the stand who testified that George Floyd’s cause of death was his own heart problems and drug use on Wednesday, disputing the prosecution’s account.
Chauvin’s defense attorney Eric Nelson made Floyd’s health and drug use the basis for arguing that Chauvin floyd restraint was not the cause of death. Chauvin is charged with second and third degree murder in connection with Floyd’s death.
Former Maryland State Chief Medical Examiner Dr David Fowler said Floyd’s “enlarged heart” was the main reason for his death.
Fowler said he studied the findings of the county’s chief medical examiner and decided that Floyd’s death was caused by a sudden, erratic beating of his heart, known as a sudden cardiac arrhythmia.
He said this was the result of his “atherosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease” during police restraint, using medical terms to describe the narrowing of blood vessels and heart problems caused by high blood pressure.
Fowler said the way Floyd struggled with the police trying to get him into their car may have caused stress that led to a cardiac arrhythmia.
The fentanyl and methamphetamine found in Floyd’s blood and carbon monoxide poisoning from the exhaust of the adjacent police car may have contributed to the death, Fowler said.
The jury has already heard medical experts called by prosecutors in the Minnesota attorney general’s office, who say Floyd suffered from high blood pressure, a slightly enlarged heart and was using opioid pain relievers, but none were the cause of his death.
Those the experts agree with the findings on Floyd’s death certificate, saying he was killed because he was unable to inhale enough oxygen due to the way the police compressed his body lying against the road. Baker, the chief medical examiner who certified Floyd’s death, told the jury he stands by his conclusions.
Nelson asked Fowler if Floyd died in a homicide or some other way.
“This is one of those cases where you have so many different conflicting ways,” Fowler said. “Carbon monoxide was generally classified as an accident, although somebody would catch it there, so you could make it a homicide.”
In the end, he said he would “revert to ‘indeterminate’ in this particular case.”
Fowler has been involved in other high-profile cases involving police using force against blacks. His office ruled on the death in 2015 of Freddie Gray a homicide after Gray, 25, suffered spinal injuries in the back of a police van in Baltimore.
In December, Fowler was sued in federal court by the family of Anton Black, who was 19 when he died in 2018 after police pinned him face down for several minutes as he shouted for his mother. Fowler judged Black’s death to be an accident caused by “the stress of his struggle.”
Black’s family cited similarities to Floyd’s death in their trial, in which they said Fowler and other Maryland officials “concealed and obscured police responsibility” for Black’s death. Fowler’s attorneys said the way he certified Black’s death did not violate the constitutional rights of Black’s family.
Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell took issue with Fowler’s testimony, saying he ignored Chauvin’s weight, among other things.
Chauvin’s defense is facing an uphill battle after the many witnesses for the prosecution, including current members of the Minneapolis Police Department, testified that restraining Chauvin was not allowed and likely caused Floyd’s death.