How did George Floyd die? Toxicology report, transcript raise questions

by WorldTribune Staff, August 11, 2020

The physical, scientific, and electronically recorded evidence in the death of George Floyd “overwhelmingly and conclusively proves” that Floyd “when he first encountered the police was well on his way to dying from a self-administered drug overdose,” a former prosecutor contends.

Video footage from the George Floyd incident in Minneapolis.

Minnesota prosecutors charged former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin with second-degree murder in Floyd’s death and former officers Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao with aiding and abetting the murder.

“Evidence in the case overwhelmingly and conclusively proves that these defendants are not guilty of the charges and, in fact, played no material role in bringing about Floyd’s death,” George Parry, a former federal and state prosecutor, wrote for The American Spectator on Aug. 6.

The evidence proves that the officers on the scene “exhibited concern for Floyd’s condition and twice called for emergency medical services to render aid to him. Strange behavior, indeed, for supposedly brutal law officers allegedly intent on causing him harm,” Parry wrote.

Body camera footage, Parry wrote, “conclusively establishes that Floyd repeatedly complained that he couldn’t breathe before the police restrained him on the ground. As documented by Floyd’s autopsy and toxicology reports, his breathing difficulty was caused not by a knee on his neck or pressure on his back, but by the fact that he had in his bloodstream over three times the potentially lethal limit of fentanyl, a powerful and dangerous pain medication known to shut down the respiratory system and cause coma and death. He also had in his system a lesser dose of methamphetamine, which can cause paranoia, respiratory distress, coma, and death.”

“Beyond those findings,” Parry noted, Floyd’s autopsy “disclosed no physical injuries that could in any way account for his demise.”

The transcript of the video footage from the camera worn by Lane combined with the transcript of the video from Kueng’s camera “lay out on a second-by-second basis all that transpired in their presence from the time they arrived on the scene through Lane’s ambulance trip with Floyd to the hospital,” Parry notes.

Upon their arrival, Lane and Kueng were told by a person identified as “Speaker 1” that a man in the “blue [Mercedes] Benz” parked in front of “Cup Foods” had passed “a fake [$20] bill.”

As the officers tried to move Floyd to a police car, the following exchange occurred:

Lane to Floyd: What, are you on something right now?
Floyd: No, nothing.
Kueng: Because you are acting a little erratic.
Lane: Let’s go. Let’s go.
Floyd: I’m scared, man.
Lane: Let’s go.
Kueng: You got foam around your mouth, too?
Floyd: Yes, I was just hooping earlier.
Lane: Let’s go.
Floyd: Man, all right let me calm down now. I’m feeling better now.
Lane: Keep walking.
Floyd: Can you do me one favor, man?
Lane: No, when we get to the car. Let’s get to the car, man, come on.
Kueng: Stop moving around.
Floyd: Oh man, God don’t leave me man. Please man, please man.
Lane to Kueng: Here. I want to watch that car [the blue Mercedes Benz] too, so just get him in [the police car].
Kueng to Floyd: Stand up, stop falling down! Stay on your feet and face the car door!
Floyd: I’m claustrophobic man, please man, please.
Later in the video transcripts are these exchanges:
Floyd: Please, man. Don’t leave me by myself man, I’m just claustrophobic, that’s it.
Lane: Well, you’re still going in the [police] car.
Kueng to Floyd: Why are you having trouble walking?
Floyd: Because officer [inaudible] Lane: I’ll roll the windows down, okay?
Kueng to Floyd at the door to the squad car: Take a seat!
Floyd: Y’all I’m going to die in here! I’m going to die, man!
Kueng: You need to take a seat right now!
Floyd: And I just had COVID man, I don’t want to go back to that.
Lane: Okay, I’ll roll the windows down. Hey, listen!
Floyd: Dang, man.
Lane: Listen!
Floyd: I’m not that kind of guy.
Lane: I’ll roll the windows down if you put your legs in [the squad car] all right? I’ll put the air on.
Speaker 9 [civilian] to Floyd: Quit resisting bro.
Floyd: I don’t want to win. I’m claustrophobic, and I got anxiety, I don’t want to do nothing to them!
Lane: I’ll roll the window down.
Floyd: I’m scared as fuck man.
Speaker 9: That’s okay [inaudible] Floyd: [inaudible] when I start breathing it’s going to go off on me, man.
Lane: Pull your legs in.
Floyd: Okay, okay, let me count to three and then I’m going in please.
Speaker 9: You can’t win!

As the officers attempted to get Floyd into the police car, Floyd hit his head on the car’s window and suffered a minor cut. The police placed a “Code 2” call for Emergency Medical Services to tend to the wound.

After Kueng told Floyd once again to “take a seat” in the squad car, Floyd announced, “I can’t choke, I can’t breathe Mr. Officer! Please! Please!”

The transcripts show the following exchange:

Floyd: I want to lay on the ground. I want to lay on the ground. I want to lay on the ground!
Lane: You’re getting in the squad [car].
Floyd: I want to lay on the ground! I’m going down, I’m going down, I’m going down.
Kueng: Take a squat (sic).
Floyd: I’m going down.
Speaker 9: Bro, you about to have a heart attack and shit man, get in the car!
Floyd: I know I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. [crosstalk] Lane: Get him on the ground.
Floyd: Let go of me man, I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.
Lane: Take a seat.
Floyd: Please man listen to me.
Officer Chauvin: Is he going to jail?
Floyd: Please listen to me.
Kueng: He’s under arrest right now for forgery. [inaudible] what’s going on.
Floyd: Forgery for what? For what?
Lane: Let’s take him out [of the squad car] and just MRT [Maximal Restraint Technique by which a suspect’s feet are “hobbled” to his waist].
Floyd: I can’t fucking breathe man. I can’t fucking breathe.
Kueng: Here. Come on out [of the squad car]!
Floyd: [inaudible] Thank you. Thank you.
Officer Thao: Just lay him on the ground.

Parry notes that the evidence thus far showed “Floyd was incoherent, acting erratically, non-compliant, and foaming at the mouth. He was having trouble walking and standing up. He wanted to lie on the ground. But, while still upright, he complained three times that he was ‘claustrophobic,’ seven times that he ‘can’t breathe,’ and twice that he was ‘going to die.’ ”

“All of this happened before he was on the ground and immobilized by the police,” Parry noted.

After Floyd was on the ground, “he continued to move about and say that he couldn’t breathe. Lane was near Floyd’s feet, Kueng at the middle of Floyd’s body, and Chauvin at his back and head with his knee on Floyd’s neck,” Parry noted.

The transcripts show this exchange followed:

Thao: Is he high on something?
Kueng: I’m assuming so, we found a pipe.
Lane: He wouldn’t get out of the car. He wasn’t following instructions. [crosstalk] …
Floyd: Please, I can’t breathe. Please man. Please man!
Thao: Do you have EMS [Emergency Medical Services] coming code 3?
Lane: Ah code 2, we can probably step it up then. You got it? [crosstalk] Floyd: Please, man!
Thao: Relax!
Floyd: I can’t breathe.
Kueng: You’re fine, you’re talking fine.
Lane: Your talken (sic), Deep breath.
Floyd: I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. Ah! I’ll probably just die this way.
Thao: Relax.
Floyd: I can’t breathe my face.
Lane: He’s got to be on something.
Thao: What are you on?
Floyd: I can’t breathe. Please, [inaudible] I can’t breathe. Shit.
Speaker 9: Well get up and get in the car, man. Get up and get in the car.
Floyd: I will. I can’t move.
Speaker 9: Let him get in the car.
Lane: We found a weed pipe on him, there might be something else, there might be like PCP or something. Is that shaking of the eyes right is PCP?
Floyd: My knees, my neck.
Lane: Where their eyes like shake back and forth really fast?
Floyd: I’m through, I’m through. I’m claustrophobic. My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Everything hurts. I need some water or something, please. Please? I can’t breathe officer.
Chauvin: Then stop talking, stop yelling.
Floyd: You’re going to kill me, man.
Chauvin: Then stop talking, stop yelling, it takes a heck of a lot of oxygen to talk.
Floyd: Come on, man. Oh, oh. [crosstalk] I cannot breathe. I cannot breathe. Ah! They’ll kill me. They’ll kill me. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. Oh!
Speaker 8: We tried that for 10 minutes.
Floyd: Ah! Ah! Please. Please. Please.
Lane: Should we roll him on his side?
Chauvin: No, he’s staying put where we got him.
Lane: Okay. I just worry about the excited delirium or whatever.
Chauvin: That’s why we got the ambulance coming.

Parry noted that “As Floyd continued to shout that he couldn’t breathe and called for his mother, a radio transmission was recorded saying that the ambulance was approximately four blocks away. When it arrived, Lane got in the ambulance and helped to give Floyd CPR on the way to the hospital.”

Parry also noted that Floyd’s 20-page autopsy and toxicology report, titled ‘CARDIOPULMONARY ARREST COMPLICATING LAW ENFORCEMENT SUBDUAL, RESTRAINT, AND NECK COMPRESSION’, which thoroughly sets forth in detail all physical and toxicological findings, makes no other mention of the purported cause of death. In fact, the first iteration of the report didn’t even mention ‘law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression,’ and the criminal complaint filed by prosecutors stated that the autopsy ‘revealed no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation.’ ”

Prior to issuing the autopsy report, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner preliminarily found that the “autopsy revealed no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation. Mr. Floyd had underlying health conditions including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease. The combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death.” (Emphasis added.)

The Medical Examiner’s preliminary findings were incorporated in the Statement of Probable Cause attached to the arrest warrant for Chauvin, which was filed on May 29. Floyd’s toxicology report was issued by NMS Labs of Horsham, Pennsylvania on May 31.

“In short, Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder (later raised to second-degree murder by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison) without the benefit of a complete and competent investigation of all the relevant facts and circumstances of Floyd’s death,” Parry noted.

So why couldn’t Floyd breathe, and how did he die?

“The clear answers to those questions are to be found in his toxicology report, which overwhelmingly and unerringly supports the conclusion that Floyd’s breathing difficulties and death were the direct and undeniable result of his ingestion of fentanyl mixed with methamphetamine,” Parry wrote.

Parry concluded: “The proof of the defendants’ innocence is undeniable. But given the violence and rioting that has followed in the wake of Floyd’s death, will it be possible for these defendants to receive justice? In other words, will there be a judge or jury with enough integrity and courage to defy the mob and, in recognition of the clear and overwhelming exculpatory evidence, set these wrongfully accused men free.”

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