WASHINGTON – The Minneapolis emergency room doctor who tried to save George Floyd and later pronounced him dead said on Monday that asphyxia was the most probable cause of his death.
The testimony could boost the case of the prosecution, which alleges Floyd died because of former police officer Derek Chauvin’s actions, pinning Floyd to the ground by pressing his knee into his neck for more than nine minutes as Floyd said he couldn’t breathe, rather than complications of a heart condition or drug use.
Hennepin County Medical Center doctor Bradford Langenfeld said that Floyd was admitted to hospital suffering from cardiac arrest, that he was treated for 30 minutes and that his heart was not beating “to a degree sufficient to sustain life.”
“There was no report that, for example, the patient complained of chest pain or was clutching his chest at any point, or having any other symptoms to suggest he had a heart attack,” he said, adding there was no report to say Floyd had overdosed on a specific medication and no hemorrhaging to lead to cardiac arrest.
He indicated that “one of the more likely possibilities” for his death was hypoxia – a lack of oxygen.
Asked then by prosecution attorney Jerry Blackwell whether his leading main theory about the cause of Floyd’s death was a lack of oxygen, Langenfeld answered: “I felt that at the time, based on the information I had, that it was more likely than the other possibilities.”
Blackwell asked him to clarify whether there is another name for “oxygen deficiency,” to which the witness replied that “asphyxia is the commonly understood term.”
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo also took the stand on Monday, criticizing the actions of his former officer.
“Once Mr. Floyd had stopped resisting, and certainly once he was in distress and trying to verbalize that, that should have stopped,” said the police chief.
Arradondo also claimed that Chauvin violated department protocols in his immobilization of Floyd.
“Once there was no longer any resistance, and clearly when Mr. Floyd was no longer responsive and even motionless, to continue to apply that level of force to a person proned out, handcuffed behind their back – that in no way, shape or form is anything that is by policy, is not part of our training and is certainly not part of our ethics or our values,” he added.
Floyd died in police custody in May last year when four officers tried to arrest him for using a counterfeit bill to pay at a store. His death shocked the United States and sparked a wave of racial justice protests across the country.
The former police officer is charged with second-degree unintentional murder, punishable by up to 40 years in prison; third-degree murder, with a maximum sentence of 25 years, and second-degree manslaughter, which carries up to 10 years.