Hennepin County's chief medical examiner and a forensic pathologist testified today in the trial of former officer Derek Chauvin.
They detailed what they found during the course of examining George Floyd's death.
Here's what they said today in court:
Dr. Andrew Baker, the Hennepin County chief medical examiner who performed Floyd's autopsy, said he still classifies Floyd's death as a homicide, and that his opinion remains unchanged. He told the court that Floyd's heart disease and use of fentanyl were contributing factors to his death, but they were not the direct cause.
Asked about the autopsy and Floyd's death certificate, Baker described the "top line of the cause of death" as "what you think is the most important thing that precipitated the death."
"Other things that you think played a role in the death but were not direct causes get relegated to what's known as the 'other significant conditions' part of the death certificate," he said. "For example, you know, Mr. Floyd's use of fentanyl did not cause the subdual or neck restraint. His heart disease did not cause the subdual or the neck restraint."
Chauvin's defense attorney, Eric Nelson, has argued that Floyd died as a result of drugs and preexisting health conditions. And under cross examination, Baker said he believed those factors played a role. But Baker reiterated he stood by the cause of death he wrote on Floyd's death certificate and his finding that Floyd's death was a homicide, which to a medical examiner means his death was caused by another person and does not necessarily indicate guilt.
Forensic pathologist Dr. Lindsey Thomas, who has worked as a medical examiner herself, including in the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office, and who was part of Baker's training, agreed with Baker's finding in the cause of death, adding she believed the "primary mechanism of death is asphyxia or low oxygen."
Because of the restraint and his position, she said, Floyd was "unable to get enough oxygen in" to support his body's functions.
Thomas explained the technical wording of the medical examiner's finding in the cause of death, saying, "What it means to me is that the activities of the law enforcement officers resulted in Mr. Floyd's death. And that specifically those activities were the subdual, the restraint and the neck compression."
"There's no evidence," she later added, "to suggest he would have died that night except for the interactions with law enforcement."