The family of unarmed black man George Floyd are pushing back against claims he died from a drug overdose.
Floyd, 46, passed away May 25 while being arrested by Minneapolis police officers on suspicion of using a counterfeit $20 bill. Officer Derek Chauvin was filmed kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes as he lost consciousness.
Floyd was pronounced dead by medical technicians who responded to the scene, and Chauvin was subsequently charged with second-degree murder.
During a pretrial hearing on Friday, defense attorneys claimed Floyd had taken fentanyl prior to his arrest, which likely caused his death.
But outside court, Floyd’s family disputed those claims, stating: ‘The only overdose that killed George Floyd was an overdose of excessive force and racism by the Minneapolis Police Department.’
Floyd’s family lawyer, Ben Crump, continued: ‘America saw what happened. The world saw what happened. And so, who are you going to believe, your eyes or these killer cops?’
The family of unarmed black man George Floyd are pushing back against claims he died from a drug overdose while in police custody on May 25. Relatives are seen outside a court in Minneapolis on Friday following a pre-trial hearing
Floyd, 46, passed away May 25 while being arrested by Minneapolis police officers on suspicion of using a counterfeit $20 bill. Officer Derek Chauvin was filmed kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes as he lost consciousness
Floyd’s death sparked national outrage and led to nationwide protests. Millions of Americans took to the streets calling for police reform and an end to systemic racism
‘The world witnessed Floyd’s asphyxiation on video, and now defense counsel is asking us to disbelieve our own eyes. Multiple autopsies determined that he died of asphyxiation because of the officers kneeling on his back and neck.’
Meanwhile, Floyd’s brother, Philonese, also took to the microphone, emotionally telling reporters: ‘Watching our brother die on video was the most painful experience of our lives. But listening to those defending these officers blame him for his own death today felt like a knife in the heart.
‘It shows the degree to which the justice system works to protect those in authority at our expense.’
The Hennepin County medical examiner’s office said Floyd experienced cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained by the officer.
Their autopsy said Floyd had ‘other significant conditions’ including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease, plus ‘fentanyl intoxication; [and] recent methamphetamine use.’
However, an independent autopsy conducted by Dr Allecia Wilson and Dr Michael Baden, commissioned by the family, said he died as a direct result of the way he was arrested.
They found that sustained pressure impeded blood flow to the brain, and Chauvin’s weight on Floyd’s back impeded his ability to breathe.
Floyd’s brother, Philonese, took to the microphone, emotionally telling reporters: ‘Watching our brother die on video was the most painful experience of our lives’
‘America saw what happened. The world saw what happened. And so, who are you going to believe, your eyes or these killer cops?’ Floyd’s family attorney, Ben Crump, spoke outside court
The Floyd family were seen arriving for the pretrial hearing early Friday
Chauvin was one of four cops on the scene at the time of Floyd’s death.
Officers Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder, and are out on bail.
On Friday, Chauvin appeared in court for the first time, clad in an orange prison jumpsuit, face mask and handcuffs.
He was led away by correction officers after the three hour hearing, as protesters near the court shouted abuse at him.
Friday’s pretrial hearing was held to discuss various issues in the case, including whether the trial should be moved out of the county, whether the defendants should be tried in one trial or separately, and how jurors will be selected, among other issues.
Derek Chauvin, who knelt on George Floyd’s neck, was seen for the first time on Friday
Chauvin, 44, had not been seen in public since the May 25 killing of George Floyd
Prosecutors say witnesses and Floyd´s family members would likely be traumatized by multiple trials, and it would be more efficient and in the interest of justice to hold one proceeding.
But defense attorneys are pushing for separate trials, saying they are likely to offer ‘antagonistic’ defenses, and evidence against one officer could negatively impact another’s right to a fair trial.
Attempts at finger-pointing are already prevalent throughout court filings in the case.
Attorneys for Lane and Kueng have argued that their clients were rookies, who were following Chauvin’s lead.
Thao’s attorney, Bob Paule, has said that his client’s role was ‘absolutely distinct’ from the others, because he was on crowd control and was securing the scene – while the other three restrained Floyd.
Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, also wrote that his client’s case is different.
Nelson said prosecutors must prove Chauvin intended to assault Floyd, but they must also show that the other officers knew of Chauvin’s intent before it happened.
As a result, he said, Chauvin will have to defend himself differently.
‘The other defendants are clearly saying that, if a crime was committed, they neither knew about it nor assisted in it,’ Nelson wrote. ‘They blame Chauvin.’
Outside the courtroom, protesters lay on the ground for 8 minutes 46 seconds – the time Chauvin’s knee was on Floyd