Fowler also testified that he would class the nature of the death as “indeterminate” rather than murder, as the county’s chief medical officer ruled. He said Floyd’s death had too many conflicting factors, some of which could be viewed as murder and others as accidental.
Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson is trying to prove that the 19-year-old Minneapolis police veteran did what he was trained to do and that Floyd died from his illicit drug use and underlying health problems.
Prosecutors say Floyd died because the white officer’s knee was pressed against Floyd’s neck or neck area 9 1/2 minutes When he was on his stomach on the sidewalk, his hands were cuffed behind him and his face was trapped on the floor.
Fowler listed a variety of or potential factors: Floyd’s narrowed arteries, enlarged heart, high blood pressure, drug use, the stress of his reluctance, the vehicle exhaust, and a tumor or growth in his lower abdomen that can sometimes play a role in high blood pressure the release of “fight or flight” hormones.
Fowler said all of these factors could have worked together to make Floyd’s heart work harder, suffer an arrhythmia or abnormal rhythm, and suddenly stop.
Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell launched an aggressive cross-examination and attacked Fowler’s findings across the board. He got Fowler to acknowledge that even someone who dies of a lack of oxygen ultimately dies of an arrhythmia.
He also let Fowler admit that he didn’t take into account the weight of Chauvin’s gear when analyzing the pressure on Floyd’s body. Blackwell also accused Fowler of jumping to conclusions and suggesting to the jury that Floyd had a white pill in his mouth in the video of his arrest. Fowler denied saying that.
Blackwell also attacked Fowler’s testimony about carbon monoxide, which displaces oxygen in the bloodstream.
In his original testimony, Fowler said carbon monoxide may have contributed to the oxygen depletion in Floyd and noted that he was standing in front of the exhaust end of a patrol car. But Floyd’s blood was never tested for carbon monoxide.
“You haven’t seen any data or test results that showed Mr. Floyd had a single carbon monoxide injury. Is that true?” Blackwell asked.
“That’s right because it was never aired,” said Fowler.
Blackwell also noted that the patrol car was a gas-electric hybrid and that Fowler had no data on how much carbon monoxide was actually being released. And he suggested that the witness assumed the engine was running at the time. Fowler said he believed it.
Prosecutors also asked Fowler to agree that if the brain ran out of oxygen it would take four minutes to cause irreversible brain damage, and that insufficient oxygen can cause the heart to stop.
“And if a person dies from low oxygen levels, that person will eventually die from a fatal arrhythmia, too, right?” Blackwell asked.
Fowler replied, “Right. Each of us in this room is going to have a fatal arrhythmia at some point. “
Fowler also agreed that Floyd should be given immediate attention when he went into cardiac arrest, as there was still an opportunity to save him at that point.
A number of medical experts called on by prosecutors said Floyd died of a lack of oxygen because his breathing was restricted from the way he was being held. A cardiologist denied the idea that Floyd died of heart problems, saying all the signs were that he had “an exceptionally strong heart.”
But Fowler said that Chauvin’s knee on Floyd was “nowhere near his airway” and that Floyd’s speaking and groaning indicated that his airway was still open. He also testified that Chauvin’s knee was not put on with enough pressure to bruise or scratch Floyd’s neck or back.
And he said that Floyd did not complain about visual disturbances or other symptoms related to hypoxia or insufficient brain oxygen levels and that he was coherent until just before he suddenly stopped moving.
“The end result is moving air in and out and talking and making sounds is very good evidence that the airway was not closed,” said Fowler.
Blackwell ended his cross-examination by asking the jury two questions: whether Chauvin’s actions played a role in Floyd’s death, or whether Floyd’s death was accidental and independent. But the defense protested, and Fowler was not allowed to answer.
The 45-year-old chauvin is charged with the murder and manslaughter of Floyd’s death after he was arrested on suspicion of selling counterfeit $ 20 in a neighborhood market. The video of Floyd gasping and unable to breathe as viewers yelled at Chauvin to leave him sparked global protests, violence and an angry investigation into racism and policing in the United States.
The defense has not said whether Chauvin will take a stand.
Earlier Wednesday, Judge Peter Cahill turned down a defense motion to acquit Chauvin, denying claims that prosecutors failed to prove that Chauvin’s actions had killed Floyd. Requests for acquittal are routinely made mid-way through a process and are usually denied.