The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office released the full autopsy results performed on George Floyd with his family’s permission.
The release comes nine days after Floyd died following his detention on the pavement by police at a Minneapolis intersection and as crucial differences surfaced Monday with outside autopsy findings released by family attorney Benjamin Crump.
Also disclosed by the report was that Floyd tested positive for COVID-19 in early April, although the autopsy did not cite that as a factor in his death.
“Since … positivity for [COVID-19] can persist for weeks after the onset and resolution of clinical disease, the autopsy result most likely reflects asymptomatic but persistent … positivity from previous infection,” the report said based on the autopsy performed by the medical examiner, Dr. Andrew Baker.
Floyd repeatedly told officers that he was unable to breathe while he was restrained before he lost consciousness and died. A concern with SARS-CoV-2 infection is that it can cause scarring in the lungs that results in lingering respiratory problems and shortness of breath. However, doctors worry more about that long-term problem in severe COVID-19 cases that require hospitalization, and doctors expect that patients with asymptomatic cases will fully recover. It can take weeks in some cases, though, before X-rays show that lungs have recovered.
The release of the 20-page report comes “with the consent and cooperation of Mr. George Floyd’s family and their legal representatives,” the examiner’s office said in a statement that noted a court order was also needed.
The key difference between the medical examiner’s findings and those of the autopsy arranged by the family is whether Floyd died from asphyxia.
The medical examiner made a point last week to say no, while the second report’s findings focused heavily on asphyxia being caused by officer Derek Chauvin pinning Floyd’s neck for nearly 9 minutes with his knee while officer Thomas Lane put his weight on the 46-year-old’s back and constricted his chest.
Before releasing its full report, the Medical Examiner’s Office summarized in two public disclosures that Floyd died as a result of “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.” It also listed “arteriosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease,” as well as fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use as “other significant conditions.”
The medical examiner appeared to back his conclusion that Floyd was not asphyxiated by listing a host of injuries that were absent, in particular petechiae, or pinpoint-size red spots caused by broken blood vessels that can be a sign of asphyxiation.
Also highlighted in the report was that the autopsy failed to find “life-threatening” injuries to Floyd’s neck near his head, spine, chest, brain, skull or related to the larynx.
Along with having tested positive for COVID-19, these latest disclosures from the autopsy also revealed:
• Blunt-force injuries to Floyd’s face, shoulders, hands, arms and legs.
• Bruises on his wrists from the handcuffs.
• One rib was broken during cardiopulmonary resuscitation.