Expert: Lack of oxygen killed George Floyd, not drugs

A protester burns an American flag while rallying at the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020, in Portland, Ore. The rally came as Portland has seen nearly nightly protests since the police killing of George Floyd in late May

George Floyd died of a lack of oxygen from being pinned to the pavement with a knee on his neck, medical experts testified at former Officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial, emphatically rejecting the defense theory that Floyd’s drug use and underlying health problems killed him.

“A healthy person subjected to what Mr. Floyd was subjected to would have died,” prosecution witness Dr. Martin Tobin, a lung and critical care specialist at the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital and Loyola University’s medical school in Illinois, testified Thursday.

Using easy-to-understand language to explain medical concepts and even loosening his necktie to illustrate a point, Tobin told the jury that Floyd’s breathing was severely constricted while Chauvin and two other Minneapolis officers held the 46-year-old Black man down on his stomach last May with his hands cuffed behind him and his face jammed against the ground.

The lack of oxygen resulted in brain damage and caused his heart to stop, the witness said.

Tobin, analyzing images of the three officers restraining Floyd for what prosecutors say was almost 9 1/2 minutes, testified that Chauvin’s knee was “virtually on the neck” more than 90% of the time.

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