A veteran pulmonologist testified Thursday that George Floyd’s death was due in part to Derek Chauvin’s knees pressing against his neck and back, making it impossible for him to breathe, and that Mr. Floyd showed signs of brain damage about four minutes before Mr Chauvin lifted his knee from his neck.
Dr. Martin J. Tobin, a pulmonologist and critical care physician in Chicago, said in court that the combination of Mr. Chauvin’s pressure, the handcuffs that pulled Floyd’s hands behind his back, and Mr. Floyd’s body was pressed against the street had caused him to die “of a low oxygen content.”
Dr. Tobin was convinced that Chauvin’s actions had caused Mr. Floyd’s death on May 25th. He pointed to the exact moment in the graphic spectator video of the arrest, where he said that Mr. Floyd was dead and noticed that his eyes had opened wide and then closed again. At that point, Mr. Chauvin’s knee remained on his neck.
“You can see his eyes – he is conscious – and then you can see that he is not,” said Dr. Tobin. “That’s the moment life goes out of his body.”
The doctor also rejected the defense’s arguments about drugs, saying videos show that Mr. Floyd breathed at normal speed before becoming unconscious, meaning that any fentanyl in his system “had no effect” on his breathing.
“A healthy person who was exposed to what Mr. Floyd was exposed, would be dead, “said Dr. Tobin.
After analyzing videos of the arrest, Dr. Tobin that he determined that Mr. Chauvin had pressed his left knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck for more than 90 percent of the time, Mr. Floyd was on the ground and that he had kept his right knee on Mr. Floyd’s back also for most of the time. This pressure, combined with his hands being tied behind his back and pushed into the street face down, had cut off oxygen and caused his heart to stop, Dr. Tobin.
“He was squeezed between the two sides,” he said.
Mr. Floyd was so desperate for air at one point that he tried to lift himself off the ground by pushing his right knuckle against the tire of a police car, the doctor said.
Dr. Tobin, who works in pulmonology and critical care at Edward Hines Jr. Veterans Affairs Hospital and at Loyola University Medical School, spoke for more than two hours to jurors. He said he had asked not to be paid when prosecutors asked if he would testify in the case. On several points, he urged jurors to feel parts of their own throats to demonstrate what he said; most followed.
Dr. Tobin said the factors that cut off Floyd’s air supply had led to what could be called “suffocation,” which he said is just another word for oxygen deficiency; a prosecutor told jurors as the trial began that Mr. Floyd had died of suffocation.
At one point in a video by Mr. Floyd’s arrest, Dr. Tobin, Chauvin’s left foot seemed to rise from the ground, which the doctor said meant that half of Mr. Chauvin’s body weight put pressure on Mr. Floyds neck.
After about 4 minutes and 51 seconds, Dr. Tobin, stopped Mr. Floyd talking or moaning. After a little over 5 minutes, Mr. Floyd out to straighten his legs, which Dr. Tobin said was a signal that Mr. Floyd had a type of seizure because he had suffered brain damage due to lack of oxygen. He said Mr Chauvin’s knee had been on Mr. Floyd’s neck for 3 minutes and 27 seconds after taking his last breath.
The doctor said the handcuffs were also an “extremely important” factor in Mr. Floyd’s death because Mr. Chauvin and another officer had pushed his hands up and toward his back, pressing his chest against the hard street.
“When you become inclined and with your knee on your back, it becomes work that Mr. Floyd has to perform, tremendously, ”said Dr. Tobin and added: “He has to try to lift the officer’s knees with every breath. ”