George Floyd died from heart disease complications, expert tells trial

Dr David Fowler says George Floyd did not die due to police restraint. Credit: AP

A retired forensic pathologist says George Floyd died from complications relating to his heart disease while being restrained by police officers.

Dr David Fowler's testimony in Derek Chauvin's murder trial contradicted the evidence of other experts, as he claimed Mr Floyd's death was related to the fentanyl and methamphetamine found in his system, in addition to possible carbon monoxide poisoning from a car exhaust and his pre-existing heart issue.

“All of those combined to cause Mr Floyd’s death,” Dr Fowler told the court.

The former pathologist noted that he would class the death as "undetermined" rather than "homicide" as was officially ruled.

Prosecutors have claimed Mr Floyd's death was caused by the pressure place on his neck by Chauvin during his arrest in Minneapolis in May.

Dr Fowler listed a multitude of factors: Mr Floyd’s narrowed arteries, his enlarged heart, his high blood pressure, his drug use, the stress of his restraint, the vehicle exhaust, and a tumour or growth in his lower abdomen that can sometimes play a role in high blood pressure by releasing “fight-or-flight” hormones.

Numerous senior police officers have already testified that Chauvin used excessive force and violated training during the arrest. Furthermore, a number of medical experts have stated Mr Floyd died by a lack of oxygen caused by compression to the neck.

Dr Fowler added that Chauvin’s knee on Mr Floyd was “nowhere close to his airway” and that Mr Floyd’s speaking and groaning showed that his airway was still open.

“The bottom line is, moving air in and out, and speaking and making noise is very good evidence that the airway was not closed,” Dr Fowler said.

Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell launched an aggressive cross-examination, attacking Fowler’s findings. He got Fowler to acknowledge that even someone who dies from being deprived of oxygen ultimately dies of an arrhythmia.

He also got Dr Fowler to admit that he didn’t take the weight of Chauvin’s equipment into account when he analysed the pressure on Floyd’s body. Furthermore, Blackwell all but accused Dr Fowler of jumping to conclusions and suggesting to the jury that Mr Floyd had a white pill in his mouth in the video of his arrest. Dr Fowler denied saying that.

The defence are yet to announce if Chauvin will take the stand.

The trial continues.