Chief Hennepin County Medical Examiner Dr. Andrew Baker testified Friday afternoon in the trial of former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis that heart disease and drugs were contributing factors in the death of George Floyd.
Baker, who conducted the autopsy on Floyd, had listed the cause of death on Floyd’s death certificate as “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.”
But he also had noted “contributing conditions” on Floyd’s death certificate, including “arteriosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease; fentanyl intoxication; recent methamphetamine use.”
Under cross-examination by defense attorney Eric Nelson, Baker said that other factors had been significant enough to note:
Dr. Baker: So when you put those [contributing conditions] on a death certificate, as a physician, what you are saying is I think these played some role in his death. They had a contributing condition. iI’m unaware of how the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] would mandate what goes on there. Presumably, the goal is you put things on there that you believe are relevant. You don’t list trivial stuff on there that didn’t play a role.
Nelson: And so if something was significant enough, you put it on, but if it’s insignificant, and didn’t contribute, you leave it off?
Dr. Baker: Generally, yes.
Nelson: And so, in your opinion, both the heart disease as well as the history of hypertension ,and the drugs that were in his system, played a role in Mr. Floyd’s death?
Dr. Baker: In my opinion, yes.
Baker also testified that Chauvin’s knee had not blocked the carotid arteries carrying oxygen to Floyd’s brain, as prosecutors had suggested earlier.
In addition, Baker noted that he had conducted the autopsy before watching the viral video of Floyd’s arrest, because he said he did not want to be biased in his examination. He watched it before releasing the body the following day, and noted that if he had found additional factors in Floyd’s death, he would have had time to add them to his report.
Later, Baker said that he had certified overdose deaths in which levels of fentanyl were lower than they were in George Floyd.
He said that had Floyd been home alone, “with no evidence of trauma,” he would have ruled his death an overdose.
However, on re-direct by the prosecution, he said that his opinion was that the encounter with police was the main reason for Floyd’s death.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new novel, Joubert Park, tells the story of a Jewish family in South Africa at the dawn of the apartheid era. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, recounts the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.