An independent autopsy, in calling George Floyd’s death a homicide, determined he died of “asphyxiation from sustained pressure” — a finding that is at odds with the medical examiner.
The autopsy commissioned by Floyd’s family says compression to the neck and back, caused by officers kneeling on him, led to a lack of blood flow to the brain.
Floyd was essentially “dead on the scene” in Minneapolis on May 25, Ben Crump, attorney for the family, said Monday.
Multiple videos of Floyd’s death show former police officer Derek Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck, along with other officers kneeling on his back.
CNN reached out to Hennepin County officials for comment.
The independent autopsy’s findings came after the Hennepin County Medical Examiner found “no physical findings” to “support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation,” according to a criminal complaint released by the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office on Friday.
Preliminary autopsy results cited in the complaint involving Chauvin said combined effects of being restrained, any potential intoxicants in Floyd’s system and his underlying health issues, including heart disease, probably contributed to the man’s death. Toxicology results can take weeks.
The complaint noted the findings are preliminary and the full report from the medical examiner is pending.
Dr. Michael Baden, one of the independent medical examiners, said “there is no other health issue that could cause or contribute to the death.”
“Police have this false impression that if you can talk, you can breathe. That’s not true,” Baden said.
Floyd’s cause and manner of death remain pending and is being investigated by local, state and federal law enforcement, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office said in a statement.
“George died because he needed a breath. He needed a breath of air,” Crump told reporters.
Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds in total and two minutes and 53 seconds after Floyd was unresponsive, according to the criminal complaint against Chauvin.
The fired officer has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Crump said he should be charged with first-degree murder.
The other three officers seen in the video have been fired, but not charged.
Floyd family attorney Antonio Romanucci said the three “need to be charged criminally” since, he said, “they knew what they were doing could cause death.”
A homicide is the death of a person caused directly by another person. It includes murder and manslaughter. In order to be culpable, you only need to know that what you’re doing could cause death, Romanucci said.
“They knew they were employing restraints that could or might cause death,” he said.
Floyd’s death was just another in a string of incidents that illustrate law enforcement’s continued strained relationship with African American men. In the days following Floyd’s death, protests that erupted in cities across the country called for justice.
Protests over the weekend typically began peacefully during the day, then sometimes turned violent at night, with protesters hurling rocks and other objects at police and officers firing tear gas and rubber bullets on crowds.
Crump, the Floyd family attorney, called on Americans to end the violence and destruction caused by protests.
“We understand the righteous anger,” Crump said. “But the violence is absolutely unacceptable. Unacceptable to George and unacceptable to us.”