George Floyd died of a lack of oxygen from being trapped facedown on the sidewalk with his hands cuffed behind him, a medical expert testified Thursday at former Officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial.
Floyd’s breathing while he was being held down by Chauvin along with other officers was too shallow to take in enough oxygen, which subsequently ruined his mind and caused by an abnormal heart rhythm that made his heart stop, said Dr. Martin Tobin, a lung and critical care specialist at the Edward Hines, Jr.. VA Hospital and Loyola University’s medical college in Chicago.
He took the stand as part of an attempt by prosecutors to prove that it had been Chauvin’s activities — not Floyd’s illegal drug use and inherent health conditions, since the defence claims — that killed the 46-year-old Black man last May.
Tobin, analysing a picture demonstration of the 3 officers pinning Floyd for what prosecutors say was almost 9 1/2 minutes, stated Chauvin’s knee was”virtually on the neck for the vast majority of time.” He explained it had been”more than 90 per cent of the time in my calculations.”
He stated it seemed that Floyd was getting sufficient oxygen for about the first five minutes to keep his mind alive since he was still speaking.
But Tobin described to jurors what happens as the space from the airway narrows, saying breathing then becomes”enormously more difficult,” adding that it would be worse than”breathing through a drinking straw.”
Tobin testified that if the hypopharynx — the base part of the throat — becomes completely obstructed, it takes just seconds to decrease the degree of oxygen to where it would result”in either a seizure or a heart attack.”
Prosecutors revealed images of Floyd side by side, one with the front of his face smashed against the pavement and another with his mind turned. Tobin said that when Floyd’s head was facedown, a ligament in the rear of his neck would have shielded his airway. But together with his head turned, Chauvin’s weight could have compressed the hypopharynx.
The expert calculated that sometimes when Chauvin was at a near-vertical position, together with his feet off the floor, half of Chauvin’s body burden — 91.5 lbs (41.5kg) — was directly on Floyd’s neck.
Tobin stated other variables worsened the effect on Floyd: He pointed out that Officer J. Kueng held Floyd’s left hand upwards, and Chauvin’s right knee compressed Floyd’s side, meaning”the ability to expand his left side is enormously impaired.” The handcuffs along with the tricky surface also interfered with Floyd’s ability to breathe, Tobin said.
Tobin used straightforward language, in terms like”pump handle” and”bucket handle” to characterize the action of breathing for jurors. At one pointhe invited them to”examine your own necks, all of you in the jury right now” to better understand the effect of a knee onto a individual’s neck. Most of the jurors felt their necks as Tobin instructed, although the judge later told them they didn’t have to do so.
Chauvin, 45, is charged with murder and manslaughter at Floyd’s departure May 25. Floyd was arrested outside a neighborhood market after being accused of trying to pass a fake $20 bill. A panicky-sounding Floyd struggled and promised to be claustrophobic as police attempted to put him into a squad car, and they pinned him into the pavement.
Bystander movie of Floyd crying that he couldn’t breathe as onlookers shouted at Chauvin to get him off sparked protests and scattered violence across the US.
Defense lawyer Eric Nelson has argued that the now-fired white officer”did exactly what he had been trained to do over his 19-year career,” and he’s contested that Chauvin’s activities were exactly what killed Floyd. Fentanyl and methamphetamine were located in Floyd’s system.
Tobin’s testimony comes a day after a use-of-force expert testified that Chauvin bore with most of his burden on Floyd’s neck or throat area along with his back the entire 9 1/2 minutes.
Jody Stiger, a Los Angeles Police Department sergeant serving as a prosecution witness, said Wednesday that according to his review of video proof, Chauvin applied strain to Floyd’s neck or neck region from the time officers started pinning Floyd to the floor until paramedics started to move him to a stretcher.
“That particular force did not change during the entire restraint period?” Prosecutor Steve Schleicher requested as he showed the jury a composite of five images.
“Correct,” replied Stiger, who on Tuesday testified Chauvin used excessive force against Floyd.
Nelson countered by pointing out what he said were moments in the movie footage when Chauvin’s knee did not seem to be on Floyd’s neck but on his shoulder blade area or the bottom of his neck.
Stiger didn’t give much ground, saying the officer’s knee in some of the contested images still appeared to be close Floyd’s neck, even though he agreed his burden might have shifted occasionally.
In other testimony Tuesday, the lead Minnesota state investigator on the case, James Reyerson, initially agreed with Nelson who Floyd appeared to say at a police body-camera video of his arrest,”I ate too many drugs.”
But if a prosecutor played a longer clip of the video, Reyerson said he believed what Floyd actually said was”I ain’t do no drugs.”