George Floyd Had Fentanyl in His System at Time of Death, Medical Examiner Says

Following the announcement of the results in a private autopsy of George Floyd, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner now says Floyd had fentanyl in his system at the time of his death. Per the official report, Floyd's death is listed as a "homicide," with the cause being "a cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained by law enforcement officer(s)." The report also adds that findings determined Floyd had "fentanyl intoxication," as well as signs of "recent methamphetamine use."

Notably, the comments section of the report states that "manner of death classification is a statutory function of the medical examiner, as part of death certification for purposes of vital statistics and public health." It added that the "manner of death is not a legal determination of culpability or intent, and should not be used to usurp the judicial process." These "decisions are outside the scope of the Medical Examiner’s role or authority." Floyd died on May 25 after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest. Notably, a preliminary report from the Hennepin County Medical Examiner stated that "no physical findings" were discovered to support "a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation" as Floyd's cause of death.

However, the initial statement added that the use of restraint by all the officers "likely contributed" to Floyd's death. The preliminary report also pointed to personal health issues Floyd was found to have, such as hypertensive heart disease and coronary artery disease, as possible contributing factors to his death. They also referred to "potential intoxicants," but at the time did not state if drugs or alcohol were found in Floyd's system. Following Floyd's death, Chauvin and the other three officers involved in his arrest were fired from the Minneapolis Police Department. Chauvin has since been arrested and charged with third-degree murder, as well as manslaughter. The other three officers have not been charged in Floyd's death, but it is possible that they still could be.

The private autopsy requested by Floyd's family was completed by pathologists Dr. Michael Baden and Dr. Allecia Wilson, who challenged the results of the initial preliminary autopsy report done by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner. The pair stated that their findings determined that Floyd's death was a "homicide caused by asphyxia." They stated that they believed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck, as well as two other officers kneeling on his body, caused a lack of blood flow to the brain, and that any "other health issue...could contribute to the death." Dr. Baden added, "Police have this false impression that if you can talk, you can breathe. That's not true."