George Floyd Died From 'Severe Pressure' to His Neck and Back Applied by Police Officers: Independent Autopsy

George Floyd memorial
George Floyd died in police custody on Memorial Day. Getty

George Floyd was killed by asphyxia caused by "severe pressure" on his neck and back from Minneapolis Police Department officers pinning him to the pavement, an independent autopsy commissioned by his family has determined.

Attorney Benjamin Crump, who represents the slain 46-year-old's relatives, announced the results Monday afternoon at a press conference, joined by Dr. Michael Baden and the University of Michigan Medical School's director of autopsy and forensic services, Dr. Allecia Wilson, who conducted the second postmortem examination.

Their findings dispute preliminary findings by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner, which found "no physical findings" to "support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation," and said underlying health conditions including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease may have contributed to his death.

Toxicology test results will take weeks.

Floyd "had no underling medical problems that contributed to his death. He was in good health," said Baden, citing information he said the family provided. 

Now fired officer Derek Chauvin had his knee on Floyd's neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in total, and two minutes and 53 seconds after Floyd was unresponsive, according to a criminal complaint released by the Hennepin County Attorney's Office.

Viral video from the incident shows Floyd repeatedly saying "I can't breathe," and calling for his mother, who died three years ago. His death has prompted days of massive protests across the country, some accompanied by looting, property destruction amid tear gas canisters and rubber bullets being fired by law enforcement officers.

Crump said Monday that Floyd's death was a homicide, meaning it was manslaughter or murder. Chauvin was charged Friday with third-degree murder and manslaughter, and authorities said more charges could follow.

The attorney also called for charges to be filed against at least three other officers seen holding and restraining Floyd. A criminal investigation of the death is continuing.

"The ambulance was his hearse," Crump said. Floyd was pronounced dead at local hospital, and EMTs were unable to revive him en route despite administering CPR and shocking his heart, according to Baden.

Some law enforcement officials have said Floyd was able to breathe because he was talking before losing consciousness.

"That is not true," Baden said, noting it is physically possible to speak without drawing a breath. 

Baden was New York's medical examiner in 1978 and 1979, and has previously performed independent autopsies on Eric Garner, who died in 2014 while being restrained by New York Police Department officers in Staten Island. "I can't breathe," he said as officers pinned him down.

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