It looks like George Floyd was not “murdered” after all

A former federal and state prosecutor dissects the evidence against the police officers charged with murder in the death of George Floyd, and concludes that there’s substantial evidence that in fact, he died of a drug overdose.  He also asks troubling questions about why the release of that evidence was delayed, and asks why the charges have not been dropped in the light of it.  Bold, underlined text is my emphasis.

Then, on May 31, 2020, NMS Labs forwarded Floyd’s toxicology report to the Hennepin County Medical Examiners’ Office.

And that’s when the proverbial fecal matter hit the fan.

At 7:30 p.m. on May 31, 2020, prosecutors “met” online with Dr. Andrew Baker, Chief Medical Examiner of Hennepin County, to discuss Floyd’s toxicology report.

. . .

So there they were, staring at the just-received and damning toxicology report that blew to smithereens the whole prosecution theory that the police had killed Floyd. To their undoubted dismay, Dr. Baker, the chief medical examiner, had to concede that at 11 ng/mL, Floyd had “a fatal level of fentanyl under normal circumstances.” He also conceded that the fentanyl overdose “can cause pulmonary edema,” a frothy fluid build-up in the lungs that was evidenced by the finding at autopsy that Floyd’s lungs weighed two to three times normal weight.

This is consistent with Officer Kueng’s observation at the scene that Floyd was foaming at the mouth and, as found at autopsy, that his lungs were “diffusely congested and edematous.”

In other words, like a drowned man, Floyd’s lungs were filled with fluid. And that was the obvious and inescapable reason why Floyd kept shouting over and over again that he couldn’t breathe even when he was upright and mobile.

The memorandum ends with Dr. Baker’s devastating conclusion that “if Floyd had been found dead in his home (or anywhere else) and there were no other contributing factors he [Dr. Baker] would conclude that it was an overdose death.”

Translation: this toxicology report drives a stake through the heart of our murder case. How do we justify criminally charging these police officers and explain away our colossal screw-up?

It is quite telling that this explosively exculpatory June 1 memorandum was not released by the prosecution until August 25, 2020. All of which prompts these questions:

First, why did the prosecution wait three months to release this memorandum?

Second, if the prosecution had released this information in a timely fashion, would that have helped to quell the anti-police outrage that has fueled the nationwide orgy of rioting and looting?

Third, in light of Floyd’s toxicology results and the medical examiner’s assessment that Floyd’s fentanyl overdose caused him to essentially drown in his own bodily fluid, why haven’t the charges against all of the police defendants been dropped?

The handwriting is on the wall. Through all of the rioting, looting, and burning, the prosecution has kept secret its knowledge that George Floyd died as the result of a self-administered overdose of fentanyl.

There’s more at the link, including the full memorandum in question.  The article was published some weeks ago, but I didn’t notice it until recently – hence this belated mention.

I don’t see how a charge of murder can be sustained against the officers in question, given evidence like that.  It exculpates them entirely.  They may be guilty of procedural errors, but even that is in question, given their department’s policies and training.  There’s so much “smoke and mirrors” surrounding the case that it’s hard for outsiders to know the truth;  and the mainstream news media appear uninterested in following up on the evidence revealed above, which makes an unbiased assessment even more difficult.

More and more, it looks like the officers involved were thrown to the wolves in a vain attempt to placate the mob.  What’s more, it looks like the refusal to produce this evidence in a timely manner may have fueled the ongoing riots and protests across the country.  If that can be demonstrated, will Hennepin County and the city of Minneapolis be criminally or civilly liable for the billions of dollars in damage and commercial loss suffered by the locations of those riots and protests?  I wouldn’t be surprised to see enterprising attorneys try to make that case.

Meanwhile, Officer Derek Chauvin is still in jail, while his three colleagues are free on (very high) bail.  The evidence described above makes one question the justice of that situation.



  1. This…really doesn't change a whole lot. Even based on the evidence we had at the time, a charge of murder was going to be nearly impossible to make stick, and manslaughter would be iffy.
    I figured that if the prosecution wanted a conviction, they'd go with negligent homicide. This simply calls that into question, though a charge of criminal negligence would be viable if this is true.

  2. I can just see the riots across the country when the District Attorney drops the charges from the cops falsely accused of murdering George Floyd. I am thinking that it will happen on Monday, Nov 2, 2020.

  3. Tom:
    It was stated by police expert observers back at the start that everything done by Chauvin was by the book, and there was no basis for ANY charges. The "book" being training and procedures of that department. I expect those cops to end up with a significant retirement fund after the lawyers get done with the city and various news agencies, etc. Chauvin is probably safer sitting in custody while the country falls apart as a result of the idiocy of TPTB.

  4. If Floyd was able to put up physical resistance to arrest, then he did not, by definition, have a fatal level of drugs in his system.

    He may have had drugs in his system, but it was NOT a fatal level.

    He was died because a cop put a weighted knee on his neck for nearly 9 minutes.

    Sorry, but I can't agree with your line of thinking here.

  5. @Jeff B – Reality is real, whether you like it or not.
    A man shot in the heart can still function for long enough to slit your throat. A fatal overdose for most drugs doesn't normally result in instant death.

  6. @McChuck:

    I spent 15 years as a 9-1-1 paramedic, first in downtown Atlanta, then on a helicopter as a critical care flight paramedic. I've been invited to speak at multiple emergency medicine conferences, have taught numerous EMTs and Paramedics, and have authored several chapters in EMS text books

    Do, please, continue to lecture me on medicine.

  7. @Jeff B: You did read the first coroners report, of course you did or else you wouldn't be arguing without knowing the facts.
    You know the one were they say that no life threatening injuries were detected but a potential lethal dose of drugs were in his system? That was just a couple hours after the death before the whole thing became political dynamite.

    This particular restraining technique can be lethal if done incorrectly. But as of now everything points to an overdose and not to an incorrect application of an restraining technique.

  8. @Jeff B:

    You're not entitled to your own facts, Jeff. And with your supposed resume you should know better.

    Floyd was restrained because he kept struggling, "putting up physical resistance" as you say. If you're so smart about medicine you'll recognize several of the symptoms of a drug overdose. Too bad for him that the agitation, aggression and violence got him into a position where he could not be treated for his overdose. Entirely his own fault.

    If your career claims are true, you've probably seen this exact scenario repeated many times. Maybe you just hate cops?

  9. To all those picking on Jeff B: Please don't. He really is a highly experienced medic, and a personal friend of mine. I have no problem with him expressing his opinions. Right now, the toxicology report I cited appears to indicate the cause of death was not police misconduct, but Jeff may be right about it being a contributing factor. (Key question: If the cops had not detain Floyd in the way they did, would he still have died from his drug overdose? That's a very big unanswered question.)

    I guess we'll have to see how all this plays out in the courts.

  10. The incompetent if not outright evil Keith Ellison as MN A.G. has a LOT to do with things not being revealed in a timely manner, but rather a carefully timed manner of maximum malfeasance.

  11. Well, well, well…

    So all the people who have said the Police were bad-think and evil and murderers are very wrong. Because Floyd killed himself.

    Which we knew within 24 hours. And yet sooo many people said the Cops are Evil and Choked poor Georgie.

    No. He self-slabbed. Like he almost did about a year earlier when he swallowed his stash when being arrested by cops, and he overdosed and died and was brought back.

    This time? His heart was dead or dying while he was standing up. I've seen it before amongst druggies. The heart dies, the body keeps moving for a while.

    Free Chauvin. Reinstate all four officers, with backpay, with a clean record. Or pay them off. Breonna Taylor's family got 12 mill for her at-fault death. So why not the same payout to the four officers who have had their lives destroyed by prosecutorial malfeasance? Seems fair to me.

  12. Reality also is that the facts would not have stopped the rioting, any more than the facts on Breona Taylor's killing have stopped the protests and riots. The fact being, of course, that the warrant on Breona Taylor's house was a knock warrant which the police executed as required; that the warrant was issued based on her long association with a major drug dealer (her prior boyfriend); that the current boyfriend lawfully shot first as he thought it was a home invasion; and that the police lawfully shot back as they were under fire, unfortunately killing Taylor. Tragic but not a racially motivated killing.

    I would agree that Jeff should not be subject to abuse for expressing his opinion. We can be adults here. However, the comment "If Floyd was able to put up physical resistance to arrest, then he did not, by definition, have a fatal level of drugs in his system." was maybe a little hyperbolic and poorly thought out, leading to some of the pushback. I may not be an EMT but I've been around enough to know that this absolutely isn't true.

  13. "This particular restraining technique can be lethal if done incorrectly."

    Correct. And it seems it was done incorrectly. Or, at least, excessively.

    "If your career claims are true, you've probably seen this exact scenario repeated many times."

    Want me to post a resume to prove it? And yes, I have. And none of them involved a cop kneeling on a suspect's neck. Oddly, perhaps, none of them resulted in death.

    "Maybe you just hate cops?"

    You can't possibly be serious.

    "Key question: If the cops had not detain Floyd in the way they did, would he still have died from his drug overdose?"

    Given that he wasn't dead until after a cop kneeled on his neck for 9 minutes, I think the answer would be "no". That's the whole point. The article in this post mentioned "“if Floyd had been found dead in his home (or anywhere else) and there were no other contributing factors he [Dr. Baker] would conclude that it was an overdose death.”"

    But there WERE other factors. Namely excessive pressure to the neck, which can cause numerous physical reactions (everyone seems to focus on airflow restriction, but there's also vagal stimulation, etc) that could exacerbate any effects from the drugs in his system.

    Am I saying the ONLY factor in his death was the actions of the cop? No. Not at all. Am I saying that the ONLY factor in his death was the drugs in his system? No. They BOTH had a role. But to say "He had a fatal level of drugs in his system" while also saying "He was fighting and resisting" are logically inconsistent. How does a person with a FATAL level of drugs in his system fight? He'd be dead, otherwise it wasn't a FATAL dose.

    I'm done.

  14. @Jeff B

    As I understand it he got this fatal levels by swallowing his product to keep it away from the cops (no idea if that is true, but that seems to be a plausible scenario to me).

    So is it possible that he ingested a lethal dose and was able to resist while the drugs where beginning to poison him, but before he had a lethal dose in his blood?

    Or in other words, when the cops arrested him he was able to fight back, but after he was restrained it was lethal?

  15. I love being late to the party.

    George Floyd passed a bogus sawbuck. Just why the cops would take a concerned interest in this is far beyond anything I'm capable of imagining, but here we all are.

    Go to any convenience store, hand the clerk a phony sawbuck, and you'll get your phony money back in a New York minute. If you make a fuss, you'll be told to leave. In the bad old days, the clerk would bounce a Pete Rose off your thick skull, but these days you're told to hit the bricks – one way or the other.

    In this case some enterprising genius calls the doughnut munchers, they show up, and the posthumously famous civil rights political activist, George Floyd, eats his entire stash. Unfortunately for George, the stash in question carries a fatal dose of Fentanyl and our favorite crusader does a buck and wing off the face of the planet and the Lord sorts him out. But let's be clear about this.

    George Floyd is no great loss to society. He was, by all accounts, a violent criminal with a room temperature IQ and a penchant for being bone idle. Once George swallowed his stash of Fentanyl, that was it for him. He was done. Kaput.

    We'll miss him.

    The cops are not at fault here, and the persecutor has no case. The local PD should have backed them up until they got their sweaty hands on the tox report. They should have also used fire hoses and firearms on the domestic terrorists labeled as peaceful demonstrators.

    Agree or not, that's my thinking.

  16. JeffB: My resume is similar to yours. I was a CCEMTP before I retired, was involved in EMS education, etc, etc. I was present and treated two or three in custody deaths during my career, including a particularly nasty one that had corrections officers strap a patient into a restraint chair and leave him unattended, with the result being that he asphyxiated and was found dead in the chair. Positional asphyxia is a thing.
    With that being said, I don't think it was the knee per se that killed GF. If anything, the fact that they left him lying face down with handcuffs on while he was intoxicated was probably a larger factor. The biggest contributor to GF's death was likely the large amount of drugs that were in his system.

  17. Oops- I would add that I have seen patients in extreme respiratory distress become quite combative. They seem to enter a "fight or flight" mindset, and will use extreme amounts of violence to defend themselves from medical personnel, who they see as a threat in the haze of their panic. They resist, they fight, they are very combative. Then they crash and become still, dead just a few minutes later.
    What happened in this video is a pattern I have seen a few times before.

  18. The autopsy report is interesting. I no longer accept 2nd hand commentary.
    Included is a statement that patients lose consciousness at around 34 ng/ml fentanyl, and that death *may* occur at levels as low as 3 ng/ml. There is no statement that 11 ng/ml was a lethal dose for George Floyd, or even that the fentanyl didn't play nicely with the other drugs he had on-board.
    It IS entirely possible that the drugs killed him.
    It's also possible that the combination of posture and pinning (and drugs) killed him.
    I guess that's why it's going to court.
    I predict the officers will get not guilty due to "reasonable doubt" (and bankrupted by the process).
    And then the violence will start again. 🙁

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