Doctor who researches breathing testifies

MINNEAPOLIS — A medical expert in the physiology of breathing testified in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin that the way George Floyd was restrained — handcuffed behind his back, face-down on the ground, with a knee on his neck — prevented him from breathing properly.

Dr. Martin Tobin, called as an expert witness by the prosecution, said the cause of Floyd’s death was hypoxia, or a low level of oxygen that led to asphyxia, or suffocation. The overall effect of the restraint was almost “as if a surgeon had gone in and removed the lung,” he said, referring to Floyd’s left lung.

“A healthy person subjected to what Mr. Floyd was subjected to would have died as a result of what he was subjected to,” Tobin said.

Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death. The defense argues Floyd died as a result of the drugs in his system and underlying medical issues, but prosecutors say Floyd was killed by Chauvin’s knee on his neck for more than nine minutes.

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Latest updates:

  • Daniel Isenschmid, a forensic toxicologist who analyzed George Floyd’s blood and urine, took the witness stand Thursday afternoon.
  • Jurors have heard from 31 witnesses so far – all called by the prosecution.
  • Attorney questioning returned to the topic of Floyd’s drug use on Wednesday. Nelson suggested Floyd said the words, “I ate too many drugs” during his struggle with police last Memorial Day and played several seconds of unintelligible police body-camera audio for witnesses.
  • Wednesday afternoon, two forensic scientists said pills found in the SUV and police squad car Floyd had been in that day contained methamphetamine, a stimulant, and fentanyl, a synthetic opioid. A toxicology report found both drugs in Floyd’s system after his death.

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