Op-Ed: A George Floyd Postmortem
by Richard Moss, M.D.
George Floyd met his fate, as the entire world knows, on May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis when police were called because they say he attempted to pass a counterfeit bill. The initial disturbing video of the encounter with law enforcement showed officer Derek Chauvin holding his knee against the back of Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. He was face down on the ground and handcuffed as he said that he could not breathe. Floyd, indeed, stopped breathing and subsequently died.
We have been living with non-stop mayhem and violence in our cities since.
The final autopsy report issued by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner indicated that the cause of death was “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual restraint, and neck compression.” Under enormous political pressure, it also stated that the manner of death was homicide.
The media, Democrats, and their leftist militias, Black Lives Matter and Antifa, all hold that the Floyd episode is another example of police racism and brutality targeting blacks. But the contradictions in the story suggest otherwise.
Two of the four officers who responded are non-white. The Chief of the Minneapolis Police, Medaria Arradondo, is black. Minneapolis is a Democrat run city. Its Mayor, Jacob Frey, is a Democrat as is their city council and state governor, Tim Walz. Minnesota has voted Democrat in every national election since 1932 including the Reagan landslide of 1984, the only state Reagan lost. Are the critics then stating that the Democrats who run the police, city and state racists?
There were suppressed videos as the outrage festered and our cities burned. Later, body-cam videos of the other three officers present during the arrest were released, including Tou Thao (Asian), Thomas Lane, and Alexander Kueng (black) showing Floyd to be highly agitated and erratic. He resisted arrest prior to the officers placing him on the ground. He appears to have lost all self-awareness, complains of stomach and neck pain and foams at the mouth. The officers struggled to get him in the back of the squad car. Once there, he complains that he “can’t breathe.” He then leaves the car on the opposite side. He asks the cops if he can get on the ground because he is having trouble breathing. In another video Floyd is seen in his car prior to the arrest swallowing a white pill, apparently doing drugs or, perhaps, attempting to conceal evidence by ingestion.
None of the four officers in the case used racial slurs or referred to his race. There was no evidence that race motivated them at all. Further, why would the officers, particularly Chauvin, deliberately murder Floyd in broad daylight with multiple witnesses, and iPhone and body cam videos? If it was their intent to murder Floyd, why did they call the ambulance and help Floyd after the medical team arrived?
Previously suppressed court documents showed that the chief medical examiner, Dr. Andrew Baker, felt that the fentanyl level in Floyd’s blood was “pretty high,” and could be “a fatal level of fentanyl under normal circumstances.” Dr. Baker also said that “if Mr. Floyd had been found dead in his home . . . and there were no other contributing factors he would conclude that it was an overdose death.” Baker, referring to Floyd’s fentanyl level of 11 ng/ml, told investigators that “deaths have been certified with levels of 3.” In another memorandum filed May 26, the Attorney’s Office said Baker concluded, “The autopsy showed no physical evidence suggesting that Mr. Floyd died of asphyxiation.” Floyd also tested positive for the Covid virus on April 3.
In another document, Baker said, “this is a fatal level of fentanyl under normal circumstances.” Other documents also said that Floyd had a “heavy heart” and “at least one artery was 75 percent blocked.” The Armed Forces Medical Examiner agreed with Baker’s findings, writing that Floyd’s “death was caused by the police subdual and restraint in the setting of severe hypertensive atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and methamphetamine and fentanyl intoxication.”
So, if the knee on neck didn’t kill him, what did? Floyd overdosed on fentanyl, which stopped his breathing and his heart, known as cardiopulmonary arrest, resulting in death — whether the officers had encountered him or not. The stress of the arrest and positioning did not help but with the amount of fentanyl he ingested, he would have died anyway. He also had morphine, amphetamine, alcohol and marijuana in his system. He died of cardiopulmonary arrest, caused by a fatal fentanyl overdose and underlying cardiac disease. He sealed his own fate.
Derek Chauvin is accused of second-degree murder and manslaughter, the other three charged as accomplices or aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter. The first charge carries a sentence of 40 years, the second a sentence of 10 years. Yet, none of the officers sought to murder Floyd. There was no intent to do so. You cannot prove murder or manslaughter unless there is intent. Although it has since been changed, at the time, Minneapolis police training materials show pictures of a suspect, face down, handcuffed, with knee on neck. Chauvin was simply following police protocol. The autopsy and videos demonstrate it was not racial and not murder. These officers are innocent. The police, including Chauvin, will and should be acquitted. It was a fraud, a manufactured lie.
The question remaining is why did authorities not release the evidence earlier to prevent the violence and rioting? Why did they let cities burn and not save innocent lives? Must we imprison innocent men to appease the mob? Why wasn’t the exculpatory evidence released sooner to stop the riots, looting, destruction and death?
Richard Moss, M.D., is an ear nose and throat surgeon in Jasper. He is the author of “A Surgeon’s Odyssey” and “Matilda’s Triumph” available on amazon.com. Contact him on Facebook, Twitter, Parler and Instagram.