Chief Hennepin County Medical Examiner Dr. Andrew Baker takes witness stand as Chauvin trial continues
WARNING: Some of the video and images via the player above may be difficult to watch.
Judge Cahill has called a recess for the remainder of the day. Court will reconvene at 9:30 a.m. Monday.
The court has taken a 15-minute break.
The court has reconvened. The defense will now cross-examine Dr. Baker.
Nelson asked Baker to define "complicating."
"It means that an intervention occurred and there was an outcome that was untoward on the heels of that intervention. So for example, somebody goes into the hospital for hip surgery and they develop a blood clot in their leg," he responded.
Baker agrees with Nelson that Floyd’s history of hypertension, heart disease and the drugs in his system played a role in his death.
DB: So when you put those on a death certificate as a physician, what you’re saying is, I think these played some role in this death, they had a contributing condition… #ChauvinTrial— Ana Lastra (@AnaViLastra) April 9, 2021
*Deleted previous tweet
Dr. Baker says he did watch the video later in the day after performing the autopsy but before releasing the body, "So had I seen something on the video that triggered yet another thought in my mind, I still had the chance to act on it."— Callan Gray (@CallanGrayNews) April 9, 2021
"There are many ways that a lack of oxygen to the heart could cause death. One could be a sudden dysrhythmia, where the person’s heart goes from a normal beat to a non-perfusing beat, and the person would literally just collapse right in front of you," Baker said.
N: In the course of your many conversations…w/ prosecutors and law enforcement officers…after watching the video, you’ve made some statements about where you thought Mr. Chauvin’s knee was placed…did you feel that Mr. Chauvin’s knee was compressing his neck?— Ana Lastra (@AnaViLastra) April 9, 2021
N: When someone is hypoxic does that cause that person to breathe faster.— Ana Lastra (@AnaViLastra) April 9, 2021
DB: I honestly don’t know again, it probably depends on the nature of the asphyxia. I would defer any further questions to a pulmonologist because they’re the experts in breathing. #DerekChauvinTrial
Nelson asked Baker about the statement the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office put in the complaint. He said that he found no anatomical evidence of asphyxia.
"In terms of the placement of Mr. Chauvin’s knee, would that anatomically cut off Mr. Floyd’s airway?" Nelson asked.
"In my opinion, it would not," Baker answered.
The court has taken a 10-minute break.
The court has reconvened. Dr. Andrew Baker has been called to the witness stand. He is the Chief Hennepin County Medical Examiner and conducted George Floyd’s autopsy.
Baker explained the process of conducting an autopsy, which includes taking photographs, x-rays, examination, cleansing and then conducting an internal exam.
"In a case like Mr. Floyd’s, there are some additional steps we would take that wouldn’t occur in most autopsies," he said. He also stated it included looking for bruising under the skin where handcuffs were.
He stated he was made aware of a viral video on Facebook of the incident, but said he chose to "intentionally not" seek out the video before he completed his autopsy.
More photos of the autopsy conducted were distributed to people in court, but the public will not see these photos, due to graphic content.
Dr. Baker: You can see kind of a patterned bruise it almost looks like a tram track, those parallel marks. That’s pretty typical for what handcuff marks look like when we see them at autopsy. #DerekChauvinTrial— Ana Lastra (@AnaViLastra) April 9, 2021
Baker explained how he dissects and examines a heart and what he looks for in terms of previous injuries and heart diseases.
"Mr. Floyd had no visible or microscopic previous damage to his heart muscle," he noted. It has been persuaded by the defense that Floyd may have had such damage from prior heart issues and his drug history.
"If a person dies very, very quickly from a coronary artery event, we can only infer what happened … we wouldn’t expect the heart muscle to look abnormal," Baker added.
Regarding Floyd’s brain, Baker said he did not note any injury "in the sense of it being deprived of blood or oxygen."
Baker said he has worked with NMS Labs in the past 13 to 14 months. Two expert witnesses — Dr. Dan Isenschmid and Susan Neith — work for NMS Labs and have already testified in this trial.
When asked if Baker found anything resembling "either a pill or pill fragments" in the report, Baker said he did not.
"In Mr. Floyd’s specific case, the fact that he had been coded positive seven or eight weeks before he passed away could not factor into my cause of death determination because I didn’t see any signs of COVID at his autopsy," Baker said in court.
Baker noted that they discovered a tumor inside Floyd but the doctor stated he did not feel it had anything to do with Floyd’s death.
Blackwell, "It indicates homicide, tell us what does homicide mean to you as a medical examiner?"— Callan Gray (@CallanGrayNews) April 9, 2021
Dr. Baker, "We apply the term homicide when the actions of other people were involved in an individual’s death .. a medical term, it’s not a legal term." pic.twitter.com/ufBeWk0TqY
"In my opinion, the law enforcement dual restraint and the neck compression was just more than Mr. Floyd could take by virtue of those heart conditions," Baker said.
Friday morning, a forensic pathologist took the witness stand in the Derek Chauvin trial before the court called a lunch break recess.
Dr. Lindsey Thomas stated to the court that the cause of George Floyd’s death was determined by the officers’ actions.
The court is expected to reconvene starting at 1:30 p.m. to finish Friday’s session.