On Thursday, the jury in the Derek Chauvin trial heard expert medical witnesses testify as to how low oxygen levels led to George Floyd’s death. Pulmonologist and critical care physician Dr. Martin Tobin presented what he viewed after the first five minutes of restraint.
“We’re seeing that the level of oxygen has gone down to zero,” said Tobin. “That there is, at that point, there’s not an ounce of oxygen left in his body.”
Dr. Tobin explained that the combination of being handcuffed while held chest down on the street, and having knees to his neck and back would have seriously inhibited Floyd’s lung capacity. He pointed out moments throughout the video showing Floyd’s body resisting against these forces to find air.
“So he’s using his fingers and his knuckles against the street to try and crank up the right side of his chest,” said Tobin. “This is his only way to try and get air into his right lung.”
The defense’s stance is that George Floyd died of a drug overdose, NOT due to asphyxiation caused by Derek Chauvin’s knee on his neck.
But, later witnesses to the stand agreed with Tobin’s claim that drug use had NO impact on Floyd’s oxygen levels. Dr. William Smock, a Surgeon and Forensics Specialist with the Louisville Police Department, added that Floyd’s behavior was inconsistent with an overdose or with delirium.
“He’s breathing. He’s talking. He’s not snoring. He’s saying, ‘please, please get off of me, I want to breathe. I can’t breathe,’” said Smock. “That is not a fentanyl overdose. That is someone begging to breathe.”
The experts noted that low oxygen levels would not show up in an autopsy.
Feven Gerezgiher reporting for the Racial Reckoning project.