Forensic pathologist takes stand in Chauvin's defense

Dr. David Fowler

The judge at Derek Chauvin's murder trial Wednesday turned down a defense request to acquit the former officer in George Floyd's death, rejecting claims that prosecutors failed to prove Chauvin's actions killed the Black man.

A lack of oxygen would impact the brain first, causing someone to become disoriented and speak incoherently, Fowler said.

Fowler also put forth a novel argument that carbon monoxide from the squad car's exhaust may have contributed to his death.

Some more context: Hennepin County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Andrew Baker ruled Floyd's death last May a homicide and identified the cause as "cardiopulmonary arrest" that occurred during "law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression".

Fowler said the manner of death could be considered a homicide, but he would have instead ruled it "undecided".

The jury has previously heard from medical experts called by prosecutors from the Minnesota attorney general's office, who say Floyd had high blood pressure, a slightly enlarged heart and used opioid painkillers but that none were the cause of his death.

Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell launched an aggressive cross-examination, attacking Fowler's findings.

In December, Dr Fowler was sued in federal court by the family of Anton Black, who was 19 when he died in 2018 in police custody.

He also got Fowler to admit that he didn't take the weight of Chauvin's gear into account when he analyzed the pressure on Floyd's body.

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"Are you suggesting that though Mr. Floyd may have been in cardiac arrest there was a time when he may have been revived because he wasn't dead yet?" asked Blackwell. Dr Fowler denied saying that.

Fowler said the way Floyd struggled with police trying to get him into their auto may have caused stress that led to cardiac arrhythmia.

Dr. Jonathan Rich, a cardiologist and one of the state's final witnesses, testified Monday that while Floyd had high blood pressure, his heart was "exceptionally strong".

"I certainly don't have medical degrees, but I was always trained and feel it's a reasonable assumption that if somebody's, 'I'm choking, I'm choking, ' well, you're not choking because you can breathe", he said.

"And if a person dies as a result of low oxygen, that person is also going to die ultimately of a fatal arrhythmia, right?"

"Are you critical of the fact that he wasn't given immediate emergency care when he went into cardiac arrest?" asked Blackwell.

On Wednesday, the defense called a medical expert who contradicted the testimony of many experts called by the prosecution.

And he said that Floyd did not complain of vision changes or other symptoms consistent with hypoxia, or insufficient oxygen to the brain, and that he was coherent until shortly before he suddenly stopped moving. Brodd testified that a suspect's large stature or drug use were not automatic grounds to use force, that several bystanders at 38th and Chicago did not appear threatening, and that Chauvin verbally acknowledged Floyd when he complained of experiencing pain in his neck and stomach. But the defense objected, and Fowler was not permitted to answer.

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