A noticeable forensic pathologist attested for Derek Chauvin’s defense on Wednesday that George Floyd died of “sudden cardiac arrhythmia” due to existing heart disease and illicit drug use, opposing prosecution experts who said Floyd succumbed to a lack of oxygen while held to the ground under the officer’s knee.
David Fowler, an ex-chief medical examiner for the state of Maryland, mentioned he would not have defined Floyd’s death as homicide, as an autopsy declared, stating there were too many inconsistent factors to accurately establish the manner of death.
He also recommended Floyd’s exposure to exhaust from a nearby police squad car may have resulted to his death. However, he later admitted during cross-examination from the prosecution that he wasn’t sure the vehicle was running.
Fowler quoted a tumor in Floyd’s lower abdomen that he said could have led to Floyd’s existing high blood pressure and caused a “sudden surge” of adrenaline to his compromised heart.
“All of those combined to cause Mr. Floyd’s death,” stated Fowler, who now works as a private consultant and was a paid witness for the defense.
He mentioned the presence of fentanyl and methamphetamine in Floyd’s system which as he mentioned could have been an “accidental” overdose and his “significant natural” health issues, linked with being “restrained in a very stressful situation would be considered a homicide.”
“It’s very difficult to say which of those is the most accurate,” Fowler noted. “So I would fall back to undetermined.”
But under intense cross-examination, Fowler accepted that Floyd, who he said had died “long, long before” an emergency room doctor declared him dead, could have been revived if Chauvin or other officers at the scene had given him “immediate medical attention.”
When asked whether he was critical of the decision by the officers to not perform lifesaving measures on Floyd, Fowler answered, “As a physician, I would agree.”
Fowler’s testimony came as Chauvin’s defense attempted for a second day to challenge two weeks of emotional testimony from prosecution witnesses who claimed Chauvin used excessive force when he knelt on Floyd’s neck and back for more than nine minutes whereas he was handcuffed, face down, on a Minneapolis street gasping for breath.
Defense attorney Eric Nelson has reasoned that Floyd died of a combination of drug intoxication and prevailing health problems, including heart disease and high blood pressure, not from the pressure of his client’s restraint.
Fowler, who retired in 2019 post 17 years as Maryland’s chief medical examiner, confronted withering cross-examination from prosecutor Jerry Blackwell, who surged the pathologist on several of his findings, comprising his assertions that Chauvin’s knee was “nowhere near” Floyd’s airway and that Floyd’s speaking and moaning showed the man’s airway was still open.
“You cannot make sound unless you are moving air,” Fowler asserted.
Fowler mintained that Chauvin’s knee could not have caused positional asphyxia as several prosecution experts mentioned. He said it is because there was no bruising or scrapes on Floyd’s neck or back. He did not take into account autopsy photos that displayed deep abrasions on Floyd’s left front shoulder and hands, an evidence prosecutors presented to the jury previous week to show the force of Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s body as he fought for breath.