The lack of oxygen caused brain damage and made his heart stop, the witness said.
Analyzing a graphic representation of the three officers holding Floyd for nearly 9 1/2 minutes, Tobin testified that Chauvin’s knee was “practically on his neck” more than 90% of the time.
He cited several other factors that he said made it difficult for Floyd to breathe: officers lifting themselves by the suspect’s handcuffs, the hard surface of the street, his prone position, his head twisted, and a knee on his back.
Chauvin held his knee against Floyd’s neck for 3 minutes and 2 seconds after Floyd “got to the point where there was no ounce of oxygen in the body,” Tobin said.
When prosecutors repeatedly replayed a video clip of Floyd on location, Tobin found what he saw as the change in the man’s face that told him Floyd was dead. That moment came about five minutes after Floyd was first pinned down.
“In the beginning you can see he’s conscious, you can see a slight flicker and then it goes away,” said Tobin. He stated, “This is the moment when life goes out of his body.”
Chauvin, 45, is charged with the murder and manslaughter of Floyd’s May 25th death. Floyd was arrested outside a neighborhood market after he was accused of trying to hand over a fake $ 20 bill.
The bystander video of Floyd crying he couldn’t breathe as viewers yelled at Chauvin to get rid of him sparked protests and dispersed violence across the United States.
Defense attorney Eric Nelson has argued that the now-dismissed white officer did what he was trained to do and that Floyd’s death was caused by illegal drugs and underlying medical problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease. An autopsy revealed fentanyl and methamphetamine in his body.
But Tobin said he analyzed Floyd’s breathing, as seen on the video with the body camera, and said that fentanyl normally lowers breathing rate by 40 percent, but Floyd’s breathing is “normal” “just before he is unconscious.” Similarly, he said that people with severe heart disease have very high respiratory rates.
Tobin also said that the high levels of carbon dioxide in the blood measured in the hospital emergency room can be explained by the fact that Floyd did not breathe for almost 10 minutes before paramedics started ventilating, as opposed to the fact that fentanyl suppressed his breathing has been.
The doctor explained that just because Floyd was speaking and moving on video doesn’t mean he was breathing adequately. He said a leg movement shown in the video was involuntary. And he said that a person can keep talking until the airway is narrowed to 15%, after which “you are in big trouble”.
Officers can be heard on a video telling Floyd about it If he can speak, he can breathe.
While cross-examining this common misconception, Nelson Tobin pointed to previous statements that Minneapolis officials were trained to breathe when they can speak.
Nelson also suggested to Tobin that fentanyl in street drugs might affect people differently than legally obtained fentanyl. He also asked about methamphetamine, noting that there are few reasons why it is required by law. Tobin agreed that it would increase heart rate but said it would not affect breathing rate.
Tobin used simple language with terms such as “pump handle” and “bucket handle” to describe the act of breathing for the jury. He explained that when the airways narrow, breathing becomes “enormously more difficult” – like “breathing through a drinking straw”.
At one point, the doctor loosened his tie and put his hands on the back of his own neck and head to demonstrate how the airways work, and asked the jury to examine their own neck. Most of them did, although the judge later told them they didn’t have to.
The expert calculated that at times when Chauvin was in a near vertical position with his toes off the ground, half of Chauvin’s body weight with gear included – or 91.5 pounds – was right on Floyd’s neck.
He said it seemed Floyd was getting enough oxygen to keep his brain alive for the first five minutes because he was still talking. Tobin said it didn’t matter where Chauvin had his knee after five minutes, as Floyd had already suffered brain damage by that point.
Chauvin’s attorney repeatedly showed the jury stills from the video that he said Chauvin’s knee was on Floyd’s shoulder blade. However, timestamps indicate that almost all of these images were taken after the five-minute mark.