Apr 5, 2021 - Politics & Policy

ER doctor: George Floyd's cause of death most likely oxygen deficiency

The Minneapolis doctor who attended to George Floyd testified Monday that it's more likely Floyd died of loss or deprivation of oxygen than of a heart attack or drug overdose.

Why it matters: Opening the second week of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s trial, the doctor's testimony challenges the defense's argument that Floyd suffered a heart attack related to the influence of drugs — and not as a result of Chauvin's use of force.

  • Floyd died after Chauvin kneeled on his neck for over nine minutes, failing to let up even as Floyd said "I can't breathe" over 20 times.

What he's saying: ER physician Bradford Langenfeld declared Floyd dead after 30 minutes of working to revive him, confirming paramedics' testimonies last week that Floyd had no pulse upon arrival at the hospital.

  • Immediate CPR could have increased his chance of survival, but Langenfeld received no reports of CPR performed on the scene, he said. For every minute CPR is not administered, he added, the chance of survival drops approximately 10–15%.
  • The most common causes of the type of sudden cardiac arrest Floyd suffered are blood loss and oxygen deprivation, he told prosecutors, making asphyxia a likely contributor to Floyd's death.
  • Floyd also didn’t show specific symptoms that would be common after a heart attack or signs of drug toxins in his system, Langenfeld testified. He did note the markings on Floyd’s wrist and said he "inferred" they were from handcuffs.
  • There was no suggestion that Floyd had overdosed on any specific medication or toxin for which there is an antidote, Langenfeld added.

Flashback: The two paramedics who transported Floyd to the hospital testified last week that they thought Floyd was essentially dead when they arrived at the scene.

  • One paramedic said he saw multiple officers "on top of" Floyd while the other called the scene an unwelcoming environment.

Go deeper:

Go deeper