George Floyd, the African-American, who died in police custody last month, had tested positive for the coronavirus in April, according to the medical examiner’s report.
A report in The New York Times (NYT) cited the full autopsy released by the Hennepin County medical examiner and said that the 46-year-old had tested positive for the coronavirus on April 3.
The county’s top medical examiner Andrew Baker said that the Minnesota Department of Health had swabbed George Floyd’s nose after his death and he had tested positive for the virus, the NYT report said.
The positive result at the time of his death was likely a lasting positive result from his previous infection, it said.
The report added that there is no indication that the virus played any role in his death.
Protests across New York and the US intensified as thousands of demonstrators took to the streets demanding an end to police brutality after Floyd was killed when a white police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes while he lay handcuffed and pinned to the ground gasping for breath on May 25.
“Please, I can’t breathe,” were George Floyd’s last words and have become a clarion call for the protesters demanding action against police brutality.
Former New York City medical examiner Michael Baden, who was among two doctors who conducted a private autopsy for George Floyd’s family last week, said county officials did not tell him that Floyd had tested positive for COVID-19.
“The funeral director wasn’t told, and we weren’t told, and now a lot of people are running around trying to get tested,” Michael Baden said.
“If you do the autopsy and it”s positive for the coronavirus, it’s usual to tell everyone who is going to be in touch with the body. There would have been more care,” he said.
Michael Baden has said that the four police officers who arrested Floyd should also get tested for COVID-19 as should some of the witnesses.
“I’ ‘m not angry,” he said in the NYT report. “But there would have been more care.”
Michael Baden added in the NYT report that the full autopsy includes information he did not have access to, such as the toxicology results showing. Floyd had fentanyl in his system.
Michael Baden said that when he conducted the autopsy report, a part of the heart was not provided – the part that showed coronary artery disease.
Forensics expert at John Jay College of Criminal Justice Lawrence Kobilinsky said he was struck by the difference between the county’s official autopsy and the results of Michael Baden’s private autopsy.
Kobilinsky said defense lawyers could make a point of the amount of fentanyl in George Floyd’s body. The NYT report said while the amount required to be lethal varies from person to person, fentanyl can stop a person’s heart and breathing.
“It seems to me, it’s high enough where a defense attorney would argue that this kind of predisposes him to heart failure, when you are on a drug like this,” Kobilinsky said.
Michael Baden has acknowledged that the amount of fentanyl in George Floyd’s body was “considerable,” which would be particularly important if he had never used the drug before.
“He has enough that could be a cause of death if he had never had immunity or tolerance to the drug,” Michael Baden said in the NYT report adding that “restraint is what caused the death.”
According to the Johns Hopkins University data, there are more than 1.8 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the US with over 107,000 deaths.