An attorney for the family of George Floyd, a black man killed by Minneapolis police, blasted official autopsy results that differed from the conclusions of pathologists hired by his family, and called for protesters to “take a breath” and demonstrate peacefully.
Attorney Benjamin Crump made the remarks during a Tuesday news conference on the Floyd case. He and co-counsel S. Lee Merritt are also representing the families of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, black Americans killed recently by civilians and police, respectively.
Crump accused the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s office of going to “great length” to obscure the cause of Floyd’s death. He said the office suggested there was no trauma to Floyd’s trachea after officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for several minutes on May 25 as Floyd and bystanders begged him and three other officers to stop.
“We know this is going to play out continuously through this trial,” Crump said of the diverging autopsy results. “Attorney General Ellison’s office is all over it.”
Chauvin was charged last week with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death. Ellison’s office declined to comment Tuesday on the autopsy reports.
Floyd’s attorneys on Monday released the results of a private autopsy which found that Floyd died of asphyxia, which occurs when oxygen flow is cut off.
Officers Thomas Lane and J Alexander Kueng pinned Floyd stomach-down in the street as Chauvin knelt on his neck and officer Tou Thao stood watch. All four have since been fired.
The officers had responded about 8 p.m. to a call of a man allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill at Cup Foods at Chicago Avenue and E. 38th Street.
The medical examiner’s office issued its final public autopsy report Monday, stating that Floyd died from “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.” In short, it concluded that Floyd suffered a heart attack while being restrained and noted heart disease, “fentanyl intoxication” and some previous methamphetamine use as “significant conditions.”
Both autopsies found that Floyd died of homicide.
Citing Minnesota law and the investigation, the county declined to elaborate on the cause of death or respond to Crump’s comments.
Crump called the toxicology results a “red herring.”
“That is an attempt to assassinate his character,” he said.
Asked if Ellison has committed to using the private autopsy in his investigation into the officers, Crump said the attorney general “wants to look at all of the autopsies and all of the science as they build their case.”
Gov. Tim Walz announced Sunday that Ellison would lead the investigation and prosecution, aiding the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.
Crump called for protesters who have taken to the streets across the country and world to cease the destruction and looting that damaged more than 300 metro businesses, including the Minneapolis police Third Precinct.
“What he needed was breath,” Crump said of Floyd. “The family’s asked everybody to take a breath — just to take a breath for peace, take a breath for justice. If George was here, he would be asking people to peacefully protest.
“Just follow the example of George, America, and take a breath and try to heal our country.”
Merritt called on President Donald Trump and law enforcement to follow suit.
“What we’re asking from the highest executive office in this country and from policing agencies, from the National Guard, is to take a breath,” Merritt said. “We are all here because law enforcement refused to do what they were trained to do, what humanity dictates they do, which is to de-escalate.”