Derek Chauvin Trial – Day 10 (April 9, 2021)
2. Dr. Andrew Baker
Hennepin County Medical Examiner who performed the official autopsy during which he found Floyd died of “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression,” and also listing drugs and underlying health conditions as significant factors.
6:18:30 – Dr. Baker explains cause of death, WATCH:
“In my opinion, the physiology of what was going on with Mr. Floyd on the evening of May 25th is –Dr. Andrew Baker
you’ve already seen the photograph of his coronary arteries, so that you know that he had very severe underlying heart disease.
I don’t know that we specifically got to it, councilor, but Mr. Floyd also had what we call hypertensive heart disease, meaning his heart weighed more than it should.
So he has a heart that already needs more oxygen than a normal heart, by virtue of its size, and it’s limited in its ability to step up to provide more oxygen when there is demand because of the narrowing of his coronary arteries.
Now in the context of an altercation with other people that involves things like physical restraint, that involves things like being held to the ground, involves things like the pain that you would incur from having your cheek rubbing against the asphalt and an abrasion on your shoulder, those events are going to cause stress hormones to pour out of your body, specifically things like adrenaline.
And what that adrenaline is going to do is it’s going to ask your heart to beat faster, it’s going to ask your body for more oxygen, so that you can can get through that altercation, and in my opinion, the law enforcement subdual, restraint and the neck compression was just more than Mr. Floyd could take, by virtue of those heart conditions.”
In other words, specifically due to his pre-existing heart conditions, including 80% of his coronary arteries being blocked by plaque, George Floyd’s heart was just too weak, and therefore unable to sustain him when it was placed under greatly increased demand for those crucial minutes.
An obvious inference to draw is therefore that a person without those heart conditions would have survived, or at least wouldn’t have died before the ambulance arrived, or probably wouldn’t have died, etc. And most importantly, the officers had no idea how weak his heart was.
That is absolutely catastrophic for the prosecution’s case – and Blackwell knows it, as you can see in his face, and which was obvious to everyone in the courtroom, then ended questioning just 2 minutes later.
Baker was supposed to be the prosecution’s star witness, and he basically just told the jury that the cause of death was “Floyd had a very weak heart.”
That is going to be very hard for the prosecution to overcome.
6:37:00 – Defense Cross-examination
Baker also admitted under Nelson’s cross-examination that the placement of Chauvin’s knee would not, anatomically, cut off Floyd’s airway.
Nelson drilled Baker on Floyd’s fentanyl levels at his time of death and how he has certified overdose deaths for lower amounts than those in Floyd’s body. Baker explained fentanyl was one of the factors that played a role in Floyd’s death, but did not cause his death.
“Mr. Floyd’s use of fentanyl did not cause the subdual or the neck restraint,” Baker said. “His heart disease did not cause the subdual or the neck restraint.”
1. Dr. Lindsey Thomas
Forensic pathologist, expert witness called by prosecution
Dr. Thomas helped train Dr. Baker, the medical examiner who ruled Floyd’s death a homicide. She told the jury she concurs with Dr. Baker’s findings that Floyd died of cardiopulmonary arrest due to law enforcement subdual, restraint and neck compression. She said the primary mechanism was asphyxia, or low oxygen.
Dr. Thomas concurred with Dr. Baker’s finding of severe heart disease, with 80% of his coronary arteries blocked by plaque. And when Nelson asked her what amount of constriction would be considered fatal, she said 70% or more.
(Source: Washington Post Livestream – https://youtube.com/watch?v=OQ9MspUIxVA)