George Floyd Died of Lack of Oxygen, Not Drug Overdose, Leading Pulmonologist Testifies

“A healthy person subjected to what Mr. Floyd was subjected to would have died,” Dr. Martin Tobin told the jury.

The murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin continued Thursday with testimony from pulmonologist Dr. Martin Tobin, a leading expert on breathing. Tobin told the jury that George Floyd died from lack of oxygen, refuting the defense claim that he died of a drug overdose.

“A healthy person subjected to what Mr. Floyd was subjected to would have died,” Tobin said.

The combination of Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck and back, the position of the handcuffs and the hard street surface prevented Floyd from taking a breath, according the prosecution witness.

“It’s like the left side is in a vice. It's totally being pushed in, squeezed in from each side. It was almost to the effect as if a surgeon had gone in and removed the lung. Not quite — but along those lines,” Tobin said.

Tobin unbuttoned his shirt to show the jury the soft tissue above the Adam’s apple that was compressed by Chauvin’s knee on the back of Floyd’s neck.

“Bring your finger up to the top of your Adam's apple. And up at the top of your Adam's apple, you’re now directly over the hypopharynx, and the hypopharynx is the crucial area in Mr. Floyd,” Tobin said.

He estimated that Chauvin put about 91 pounds of pressure on Floyd’s neck, and that Floyd suffered brain damage, about four minutes before paramedics arrived, due to lack of oxygen.

“He wouldn't have an ounce of oxygen left in his entire body,” Tobin said. Tobin said that based on the evidence he has seen, he does not believe drugs played a role in Floyd’s death.