Leading pulmonary expert Dr. Martin Tobin testified on April 8 in the murder trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin that George Floyd died from lack of oxygen.
“Mr. Floyd died from a low level of oxygen, and this caused damage to his brain that we see, and it also caused a PEA arrhythmia because his heart stopped,” Tobin told the court, referring to pulseless electrical activity, a condition when someone has disorganized electrical activity but has no pulse.
“The cause of the low level of oxygen was shallow breathing, small breaths, small tidal volume, shallow breaths that weren’t able to carry the air through his lungs,” Tobin explained.
Tobin further said that Floyd being handcuffed and having Chauvin’s knee on his neck and back contributed to the shallow breathing and that his breathing became increasingly shallow for being held in such a way for over nine minutes.
“He’s turned prone on the street, that he has the handcuffs in place combined with the street, and then that he has a knee on his neck, and that he has a knee on his back,” Tobin, a pulmonary and critical care specialist for 40 years, told the court.
“It’s how the handcuffs are being held, how they’re being pushed, where they’re being pushed that totally interfere with central features of how we breathe,” Tobin also said.
According to Tobin, Chauvin’s knee positioned on the left side of Floyd’s chest would have limited the amount of oxygen entering one of his lungs.
“It was almost to the effect that if a surgeon had gone in and removed the lung,” Tobin said.
Chauvin, a white man, has denied murder and manslaughter charges for the death of Floyd, a Black man, last May.