Toxicologist Testifies Drugs Didn’t Kill George Floyd – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel


George Floyd, the man who was killed by police officers in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. (Selfie, no credit)

A toxicologist testified Wednesday at the federal trial of three former officers accused of violating George Floyd’s civil rights that it wasn’t drug use, heart disease or an agitated state known as ‘excited delirium’ which caused Floyd’s death after officers pinned him to the sidewalk in May 2020.

Dr. Vik Bebarta, an emergency physician and toxicologist and professor at the University of Colorado in suburban Denver, bolstered the prosecution’s claim that Floyd died because of the way Officer Derek Chauvin supported his knee on the black man’s neck for 9 1/2 minutes as he pleaded “I can’t breathe.” He also backed other experts who blamed officers for not rolling Floyd onto his side, because they had been trained, so he could breathe freely.

Former officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao are accused of depriving Floyd, 46, of his civil rights by not giving him medical aid while he was handcuffed, face down outside a convenience store where he allegedly tried to pass off a counterfeit $20. invoice. Kueng and Thao are also accused of failing to intervene in the killing, which has sparked worldwide protests and a re-examination of racism and policing.

As the hearing opened on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson fired a juror whose son was ill and replaced him with an alternate. Magnuson, concerned about COVID-19, ordered the selection of six alternates instead of the usual two in case any of the original 12 jurors had to drop out. The trial was halted for three days last week because a defendant tested positive.

Bebarta said he concluded Floyd “died from lack of oxygen to his brain” and choked because his airway was closed. That was consistent with Monday testimony from a lung specialist who said Floyd could have been saved if officers had placed him in a position to make breathing easier.

Bebarta said Floyd did not die from low levels of fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system, or from heart disease and high blood pressure. He said in video from inside a convenience store before his fatal encounter with police, Floyd did not appear to be seriously intoxicated or overdosed. But he did not dispute a store clerk’s earlier testimony that Floyd appeared stoned.

“He was awake, walking, communicating, walking fast at times,” Bebarta said.

Prosecutor Manda Sertich and Thao’s attorney Robert Paule questioned the doctor about excited delirium. Medical examiners in recent decades have attributed some deaths in custody to the disputed condition, often in cases where the person became extremely agitated after taking drugs or having an episode of mental health or another health problem.

Bebarta said Floyd showed no symptoms typically associated with the disease, such as high pain tolerance, superhuman strength and endurance. He said he’s probably seen at least 1,000 of these patients over the years.

“He didn’t die of what you would call excited delirium,” Bebarta said.

Asked by Paule, Bebarta acknowledged that the medical community has struggled to define the condition. Paule suggested that a police officer’s ability to recognize the condition is not as good as Bebarta’s.

Earlier testimony also established that Chauvin _ the highest ranking officer at the scene _ told his fellow officers after Floyd became unresponsive, and they could not find a pulse, to wait for a ambulance which was on the way. Officers continued to hold Floyd until the ambulance arrived, according to witness testimony and video footage.

Bebarta said he believed officers could have revived Floyd if they had started CPR when he lost his pulse _ and they would have been his best chance of survival.

“Every minute that life-saving measures are not administered, such as CPR or chest compressions, they have a 10% lower chance of survival,” the doctor said, citing American Heart Association guidelines.

Cross-examined by Lane’s attorney, Earl Gray, Bebarta acknowledged that videos he reviewed show Lane was the first person to begin performing chest compressions, after he offered paramedics to come with him. in the ambulance. The doctor also acknowledged that Lane had become concerned about Floyd’s condition and tried to check Floyd’s pulse.

Later that day, McKenzie Anderson, a scientist with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension lab who oversaw the handling of Lane and Kueng’s patrol car and the Mercedes SUV Floyd was driving, spoke. She testified that the pills and pill fragments found in the car tested positive for methamphetamine. She said one of them also tested positive for Floyd’s DNA.

Anderson is expected to undergo cross-examination by defense attorneys on Thursday.

Kueng, who is black, Lane, who is white, and Thao, who is Hmong American, are accused of willfully depriving Floyd of his constitutional rights while acting under government authority. The charges allege that the officers’ actions resulted in Floyd’s death.

Chauvin, who is white, was convicted of murder and manslaughter in state court last year and sentenced to 22½ years. He pleaded guilty in December to a federal civil rights charge.

Lane, Kueng and Thao will also face a separate trial in June for aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.

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