Floyd, 46, underwent “very severe underlying heart disease” that was a factor in the death, as was the toxicology findings that he had ingested fentanyl and methamphetamines, Dr. Andrew Baker, the Hennepin County medical doctor, told the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
But Baker survived by his earlier determination that the cause of death was “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.”
“He experienced a cardiopulmonary arrest in the context of law enforcement, subdual restraint, and neck compression. It was the stress of that interaction that tipped him over the edge given his underlying heart disease and his toxicological status,” Baker said.
The cardiopulmonary arrest “is really just fancy medical lingo for the heart and the lungs stopped,” he explained.
Floyd died on May 25, 2020. Chauvin, 45, and three other officers had returned to a call about false money being used. Floyd opposed the arrest and was pinned on the ground by three officers. Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s shoulder and neck area. All four officers were later terminated. Chauvin is on trial for second-degree murder and two other charges, while the other former lawmen will go on trial for helping and abetting murder later this year.
Prosecutors and defense lawyers on Friday stressed various aspects of Baker’s findings, with prosecutors zeroing in on how Baker ordered the cause of death was law enforcement actions while Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s attorney, described how Chauvin’s health history and use of drugs were noted as adding causes.
As jurors heard, Baker said that Floyd’s swollen heart needed more oxygen than a normal heart and that Floyd’s heart was limited in its ability to provide more oxygen because of the contraction of his coronary arteries.
“Now, in the context of an altercation with other people that involves things like physical restraint, that involves things like being held to the ground, that involves things like the pain that you would incur from having your cheek up against the asphalt and an abrasion on your shoulder, those events are going to cause stress hormones to pour out into your body, specifically things like adrenaline,” he said.
“And what that adrenaline is going to do is it’s going to ask your heart to beat faster, it’s going to ask your body for more oxygen so that you can get through that altercation. And in my opinion, the law enforcement’s subdual restraint and the neck compression was just more than Mr. Floyd could take by virtue of those heart conditions.”