Someone leaked police body cam footage of George Floyd’s arrest to the Daily Mail. There are two videos, embedded below. Make of them what you will.
To me, what is most striking is how crazy Floyd was from the beginning. The officers tried to get him out of the vehicle in which he was parked and into their squad car so they could take him to a police station and book him for passing a counterfeit bill. This proved impossible. Floyd, in a highly emotional state, was yelling, “Don’t shoot me! Don’t shoot me!” when there was no prospect of his being shot.
Floyd wouldn’t get into the squad car, saying he was claustrophobic. The officers struggled with him for around ten minutes, but were never able to get him securely inside the squad car. At one point he tumbled out the opposite door of the squad car, onto the street. The officers, believing correctly that Floyd was high on drugs, called for an ambulance.
Floyd complained of being unable to breathe long before anyone knelt on his neck. (Shortness of breath is a symptom of fentanyl overdose.) He apparently preferred being on the ground to being inside the squad car. One of his companions, his “ex” according to the Daily Mail, made a finger-twirling-next-to-the-temple gesture to explain his mental state.
A more likely explanation is drugs. The toxicology report that was part of his autopsy found that Floyd had 11 ng/mL of fentanyl in his blood, along with other drugs and metabolites. Published literature (based on a modest Google search) finds lethal overdoses of fentanyl down to 5 ng/mL, less than half the concentration in Floyd’s blood. If I am misreading the literature, I am happy to be corrected.
Pretty much everyone who watches the famous video thinks he sees Floyd dying on account of a police officer kneeling on his neck. But Floyd’s autopsy found no evidence of physical trauma in the neck area, and documented no other signs of death by asphyxiation. It may be that what we are actually seeing in the video is one of tens of thousands of deaths due to opioid overdose. Or it may be that Floyd died later, on the way to a hospital.
I am not a doctor and have no opinion on Floyd’s cause of death, but if the state actually tries to convict Derek Chauvin of homicide–which remains to be seen–the public will finally get a look at medical testimony as to what happened. But by then it will be much too late to matter.
Here are the videos. As I said, make of them what you will: