George Floyd Had Fentanyl in His System but It Has No Bearing on the Way He Died, Medical Expert Says

George Floyd
File

After a private autopsy by doctors hired by George Floyd’s family determined the 46-year-old died from “mechanical asphyxia” caused by "severe pressure" on his neck and back from Minneapolis Police Department officers pinning him to the pavement, law enforcement released an autopsy report Monday as well that claimed there were drugs in Floyd’s system at the time of his death.

Toxicology test results were initially said to be expected to take weeks. In a one-page summary, the Hennepin County medical examiner said Floyd’s cause of death was “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression,” which means he stopped breathing while being restrained. They maintained there were "no physical findings" to "support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation,” but added Floyd was intoxicated due to fentanyl at the time of his death and had recently used methamphetamine.

A medical expert, however, said it’s clear that fentanyl being possibly in Floyd's system had nothing to do with his death.

“You can’t use a post mortem fentanyl level alone to determine that someone was under the influence. You have to look at the level in context of how they are behaving,” Andrew Stolbach, a medical toxicologist and emergency room physician, told Inside Edition Digital. 

Stolbach said fentanyl causes death by sedating the person under the influence until they fall asleep and eventually stop breathing. He said that wasn’t what happened to Floyd.

“In the video, we see that this man is awake and walking enough to go buy something at a store before they took him into custody,” Stolbach said. “In this case, we have the benefit of video and we can see that he died because someone’s knee was on his neck and pinning him down. From the clinical scenario that we see with our own eyes, fentanyl is not what caused his death.”

On Twitter, people were angered and called out authorities for what they see as blaming the victim for his own death. 

“An autopsy showed that George Floyd had drugs in his system...that doesn't matter it is still a murder. All 4 should go to JAIL. Sounds like they are setting up a ‘blame the victim defense,” one Twitter user wrote. 

Other users chimed in in agreement.

“‘Potential intoxicants’ is a bullshit attempt to use the stigma created by the white supremacy-based war on drugs, to victim shame, to throw the blame & cover up the fact that a racist white cop murdered George Floyd,” another user wrote. “This was not a substance use-related death & we all know it.”

The medical examiner’s report also claimed Floyd had underlying health conditions, including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease, that may have contributed to his death, but the Floyd family’s independent autopsy found Floyd was in “good health.”

Public outrage ensued when a video of since fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin placing his knee on Floyd's neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds went viral. For the last two minutes and 53 seconds of being pinned to the ground, Floyd was unresponsive, according to a criminal complaint released by the Hennepin County Attorney's Office.

In the video, Floyd told officers several times that he could not breathe.

Public outrage ensued after the video surfaced and many called for the officers to be charged with murder. All four officers on the scene were fired. Only one, Chauvin, has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Protesters across the country have been calling for the other three officers on the scene to be charged in Floyd's death, and for Chauvin to be charged with first-degree murder.

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