Independent autopsy of George Floyd contradicts official report

A mural and memorial outside Cup Foods in Minneapolis, where George Floyd allegedly used a counterfeit bill, prompting a call to police that led to his death.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

An independent autopsy commissioned by George Floyd’s family found he died of asphyxiation due to neck and back compression, the family’s attorneys said Monday.

The autopsy found Floyd had been healthy but that the officer’s compression cut off the blood supply to his brain; the pressure of other officers’ knees on his back made it impossible for him to breathe, attorney Ben Crump said.

Those findings contradict a local autopsy, which noted the effects of being restrained but also Floyd’s underlying health issues and potential intoxicants in his system and found nothing “to support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation.”


Given the new findings, Crump called for the charge against Officer Derek Chauvin to be upgraded from third- to first-degree murder and for the three other officers involved to be charged. The family’s autopsy was conducted by Michael Baden, the former chief medical examiner of New York City, who was hired to conduct an autopsy of Eric Garner, a black man who died in 2014 after New York police placed him in a chokehold. Baden also conducted an independent autopsy of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old shot by police in Ferguson, Mo.

Floyd’s uncle, Selwyn Jones, said the autopsy should be enough to charge the other three officers.

“I don’t see why they’re waiting. They always say evidence is the key to a conviction,” said Jones, 54 of Gettysburg, S.D. Jones said that after he led a rally and march of thousands in Sioux Falls, S.D., on Sunday night, looting ensued and police urged him to return home swiftly for his own safety, afraid he might be targeted by white supremacists.

“If those other guys don’t get arrested, this destruction is going to continue,” he said.

Floyd’s aunt Angela Harrelson is a nurse in suburban St. Paul, Minn., who said she’s been “traumatized” by the rioting.

There’s no trust of Minneapolis police and district attorney. They lied about him resisting,” she said, and the independent autopsy results reinforced her distrust of local officials. She recalled that when Floyd moved to Minneapolis from Houston a couple of years ago, she warned him, “If you ever get stopped by the police, don’t do anything to resist — a black man at [6 feet 7],we get stereotyped.”

“They keep trying to make excuses for what they did wrong,” she said. “They keep lying — they lied about the autopsy, then the truth comes out.”


Three memorials are planned for Floyd: in Minneapolis on Thursday; in Fayetteville, N.C., where he was born, on Saturday and a funeral in Houston on Sunday, relatives said. Jones expects to attend all three.