A new finding by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s office is not going to sit well with folks clamoring for charges against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin to be upgraded from third-degree murder.
According to statement of probable cause filed with the Fourth District Court, the autopsy performed on George Floyd on Tuesday indicates “no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation.” The statement goes on to note:
Mr. Floyd had underlying health conditions including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease. The combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death.
As the Washington Examiner notes, the full Medical Examiner’s report is still pending, but this new development introduces a wrinkle that is almost certain to inflame passions even more. One is reminded of the community reaction to the grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson, Mo. police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown in 2014. Anticipating such a response then-Pres. Barack Obama urged protesters to seek “constructive” outlets for their anger, adding, “There is undoubtedly going to be some form of negative reaction and it will make for good TV.”
Minneapolis has been the scene of four days of violent protest since Floyd’s last moments were captured on viral video.
It is worth emphasizing that this new development does not suggest in any way that Chauvin didn’t play a role in Floyd’s death, and the actions he took that may have precipitated that outcome should still be viewed as barbaric and excessive.