Doctor treating George Floyd was told it wasn’t heart attack or overdose as he describes attempts to save him

The doctor who treated George Floyd after he arrived motionless and without a full pulse to a Minneapolis hospital says he was initially told the cause of Mr Floyd’s trauma was neither a heart attack nor a drug overdose.

Instead, Dr Bradford Langenfeld, who was then a resident at the Hennepin County Medical Center, said that after examining the evidence, “asphyxia, as it’s commonly understood,” a lack of oxygen to the body, seemed to him the most likely cause of death.

“In my experience, seeing a lot of cases of mental health crisis or drug use leading to agitated states, that is almost always reported by paramedics,” he testified on Monday. “And so the absence of that information was telling in that I didn’t have reason to believe that was the case here.”

Assessing the exact cause of death is a key question in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with murdering Mr Floyd after kneeling on his neck for nine minutes last May during an arrest for a counterfeit $20 bill. Mr Floyd told officers 27 times he couldn’t breathe.

The state of Minnesota argues Mr Floyd was essentially choked to death, while Mr Chauvin’s defence suggests a combination of pre-existing heart problems and contemporaneous drug use killed him during his encounter with police.

Dr Langenfeld also said he was told officers didn’t provide any medical care to Mr Floyd in the minutes they were detaining him before an ambulance arrived, and noted that every minute someone who needs CPR doesn’t get it decreases their likelihood of survival by 10 to 15 per cent.

“It’s well known that any amount of time that patients spend in cardiac arrest without immediate CPR markedly decreases the chance of a good outcome,” he said.

The handcuffed Mr Floyd appeared unresponsive and unconscious for at least three of the nine minutes officers knelt on top of him, and a crowd of bystanders, including an off-duty firefighter with medical training, plead for them to let him up and offer him medical care.

More Stories
India overtakes Brazil as country with second-worst Covid outbreak, with surge in cases ‘yet to peak’