George Floyd died of a lack of oxygen from being pinned to the pavement with a knee on his neck, a medical expert testified at former officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial Thursday, per the AP. The testimony emphatically rejected the defense theory that Floyd's drug use and underlying health problems were what killed him. “A healthy person subjected to what Mr. Floyd was subjected to would have died,” said prosecution witness Dr. Martin Tobin, a lung and critical care specialist at the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital and Loyola University’s medical school in Chicago. Tobin told the jury that Floyd's breathing was severely constricted while Chauvin and two other officers held the 46-year-old Black man down on his stomach last May with his hands cuffed behind him and his face jammed against the ground.
The lack of oxygen resulted in brain damage and caused his heart to stop, the witness said. Tobin, analyzing a graphic presentation of the three officers restraining Floyd for what prosecutors say was almost 9 1/2 minutes, testified that Chauvin’s knee was “virtually on the neck” for more than 90% of the time. He cited several other factors that he said also made it difficult for Floyd to breathe: officers lifting up on the suspect's handcuffs, the hard surface of the street, his prone position, his turned head, and a knee on his back. Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for 3 minutes, 2 seconds, after Floyd had “reached the point where there was not one ounce of oxygen left in the body,” Tobin said. (Floyd's muffled words were at the center of Wednesday's testimony.)