Crucial testimony in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin is expected today when the medical examiner who performed George Floyd’s autopsy takes the stand.
Prosecutors intend to call Hennepin County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Andrew Baker. He ruled Floyd’s death last May a homicide, identifying the cause as “cardiopulmonary arrest” that occurred during “law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.”
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s official autopsy made no mention of asphyxiation as a cause of death, which has been a key pillar of prosecutors’ case.
Baker’s testimony will come on the 10th day of Chauvin’s trial, the culmination of a week filled with expert testimony by not only medical experts, but also policing experts who testified Chauvin violated policy and used excessive force on Floyd.
A pulmonary critical care doctor testified Thursday that Floyd died from a “low level of oxygen” when Chauvin pinned him to the street with his knee, restricting Floyd’s ability to breathe. Chauvin has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, third-degree murder and third-degree manslaughter charges.
Why these testimonies matter: The medical analysis is important to the prosecution’s case that Chauvin was a substantial cause of Floyd’s death when he put his body weight on Floyd’s neck and back for over nine minutes – causing death by “positional asphyxia.”
Chauvin’s defense attorney Eric Nelson has argued that Floyd died of a drug overdose and preexisting health conditions.