Independent autopsy finds George Floyd died from asphyxia

An independent autopsy found that George Floyd died of "asphyxia due to neck and back compression," contradicting an earlier examination by county officials.

The findings of the new autopsy were unveiled Monday by Floyd family lawyer Benjamin Crump at a briefing along with the doctors who performed the examination.

“Essentially, George died because he needed a breath. He needed a breath of air,” Crump said.

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The independent autopsy contrasts with an initial county autopsy last week that said there were no findings to support traumatic asphyxia or strangulation, according to The Associated Press.

Allecia Wilson, one of the doctors hired to conduct the autopsy, said the “evidence is consistent with mechanical asphyxia as cause of death and homicide as the manner of death.”

Wilson conducted the autopsy with Michael Baden, the former chief medical examiner of New York City who conducted independent autopsies of Eric Garner and Michael Brown.

The doctors said it appeared Floyd, an unarmed black man, had died in police custody after a Minneapolis police officer was seen on video kneeling on Floyd's neck for about eight minutes.

“For George Floyd, the ambulance was his hearse,” Crump said. “Beyond question, he would be alive today if not for the pressure applied to his neck by fired officer Derek Chauvin and the strain on his body from the two additional officers kneeling him in his back.”

Chauvin was fired from the Minneapolis Police Department and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Three other officers were fired but not charged.

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Crump said Chauvin should be charged with first-degree murder.

Video footage of the arrest shows Floyd saying he cannot breathe as he is being pinned down.

“Unfortunately many police are under the impression if you can talk you are breathing, that is not true. I am talking and talking and talking and not breathing in front of you,” Baden said.

According to prosecutors, preliminary findings from an official autopsy last week said combined effects of being restricted, potential intoxicants in Floyd’s system and underlying health issues likely contributed to his death, the AP reported.

Baden and Wilson said that based on the independent autopsy, Floyd had no underlying medical conditions that contributed to his death.

Wilson noted that second autopsies have limitations because they are not seeing tissues in original states and sometimes they have been kept with the original pathologists. Despite that, she said the doctors feel those times “will not change or alter the primary cause of the mechanical asphyxia."

Floyd’s death has sparked protests that started in Minneapolis and have spread across the country.

The peaceful protests have at times turned violent. Crump urged demonstrators to continue protesting peacefully, and rebuked the violence.

“We support the activism and energy of people who want to make sure we achieve change, and we hope these efforts continue. But the violence is absolutely unacceptable, they’re unacceptable to George and they must be unacceptable to us,” he said.