As former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin and his colleagues pinned George Floyd to the ground for more than nine minutes, the 46-year-old black man’s airflow was so restricted it was “like a surgeon was entered and had “removed” his lung, a pulmonologist testified Thursday.
“A healthy person subjected to what Mr. Floyd was subjected to would have died as a result of what he was subjected to,” said Dr. Martin Tobin, pulmonary intensive care physician and national respiratory specialist of Illinois, after being asked whether a person without pre-existing conditions would have survived the May 25 arrest.
Tobin, a prosecution witness, told jurors in Hennepin County court he believed low oxygen levels caused Floyd’s death. He spent hours breaking down, second by second, how Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck for the “vast majority of the time” ultimately caused “low oxygen” and ultimately brain damage. He even identified the moment – when Floyd’s eyes can be seen twinkling and then closing – which he said was Floyd’s last moment alive.
Tobin said the maneuver of pressing a second knee against Floyd’s left side of body, against his chest and lungs, restricted the airflow so much it looked like Floyd having surgery in the middle of the street.
“So basically on the left side of his lung, it was almost like a surgical pneumonectomy for me,” Tobin said. “So there was virtually very little opportunity for him to be able to get air into the left side of his chest.”Tobin’s testimony came after days of testimony from current and former Minneapolis police officials, and use of force experts, all of whom said Chauvin used excessive force that was not part of his training. and was “totally useless” once Floyd stopped resisting.
Chauvin, 45, is on trial for second and third degree murder as well as second degree manslaughter after holding his knee to Floyd’s neck during an arrest for a counterfeit bill. Three other officers – Tou Thao, Thomas K. Lane and J. Alexander Kueng – will face trial in August for aiding and abetting second degree murder while committing a felony, and aiding and abetting second degree manslaughter. degree. negligence.
Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s defense attorney, argued that Floyd’s death was in part the result of health and drug problems – and that his client was simply doing what “he was trained to do everything in. throughout his 19-year career ”.
On Thursday, Tobin said there were four main reasons Floyd died: Chauvin’s left knee on Floyd’s neck, Floyd’s lying position during the arrest, Chauvin’s right knee on his back, Floyd’s arm and side, and the combination of handcuffs and pavement limiting Floyd’s. movement.
All combined, Tobin said, Floyd’s ability to expand his lungs during a stressful situation was limited and his hypopharynx, or the part of his throat where air can pass, was constricted.
“Whether it’s on your back, against your side, and on your arm, it’s all just going to significantly affect your ability to move your chest,” he said. “You just can’t do it. Everything is hit.
He explained how a 46-year-old man can endure about 60% narrowing of his airways without significantly increasing his effort to breathe. But when Floyd was arrested, his airways were restricted by 85%, which, according to Tobin, means “the effort to breathe increases seven and a half times from what it was without the constriction.”
“Based on the formula here, you can tell that as you shrink and shrink the effort to breathe is going to become extraordinarily high and at some point unbearable,” Tobin added. “You just won’t be able to do it.”
Tobin estimated that Chauvin placed around 91.5 pounds – half his body weight – just on Floyd’s neck. He said Floyd’s feet could be seen lifted off the ground as a result.
He said Floyd’s pre-existing health conditions and the fentanyl in his system were irrelevant to his death. And, contrary to officers’ assertion during arrest that Floyd could breathe because he spoke, Tobin said that was not always the case.
“It’s a true statement, but it gives you a huge false sense of security,” he said. “Certainly, the moment you speak, you breathe. But that doesn’t tell you you’re going to breathe five seconds later.
When paramedics finally arrived at the scene, Chauvin must have been ordered to get off from Floyd. Prosecutors said when Floyd was loaded into the ambulance, he had no pulse.
The Hennepin County medical examiner concluded that Floyd died of cardiac arrest due to the neck restraint and compression, also noting that Floyd had heart disease and fentanyl in his system. An independent report commissioned by Floyd’s family, which will not be presented at trial, concluded that he died of strangulation from the pressure on his back and neck. Both reports determined that Floyd’s death was a homicide.
Jurors in the trial also heard from several witnesses who emotionally described how they repeatedly asked Chauvin to remove his knee and check Floyd’s pulse during the arrest. Among the group were a firefighter and EMT from Minneapolis on leave – who said they were ignored after offering to help on several occasions – as well as an MMA fighter who tried to explain that Chauvin’s choke cut off traffic. by Floyd. Several teenagers also testified how they begged the police to stop when Floyd “gasped.”