George Floyd died from pre-existing health problems made worse by drug abuse, a fired police officer’s defense attorney argued last week in court documents seeking a dismissal of charges.
The lawyer represents former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, who was seen in a viral video with his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes prior to Floyd’s May 25 death.
Chauvin faces charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, according to the Star Tribune of Minneapolis.
Meanwhile, prosecutors are seeking longer sentences for Chauvin and three other fired officers if they are convicted, FOX 9 of Minneapolis reported.
Floyd “was a daily smoker of cigarettes. His heart was at the ‘upper limit of size’ due to untreated hypertension. Mr. Floyd suffered from arteriosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease,” attorney Eric Nelson wrote in the filing.
In addition, Nelson claimed, police bodycam recordings and toxicology results from Floyd’s autopsy say Floyd had taken fentanyl just prior to his arrest, had long used opiates and had told police he was still recovering from a bout with the coronavirus, the Star Tribune reported.
For his part, Chauvin was being “cautious” out of concern for Floyd’s wellbeing as he restrained Floyd during his arrest, the defense lawyer claimed in his filing.
During his interaction with Floyd, the officer “exuded a calm and professional demeanor,” the lawyer asserted, and “was clearly being cautious about the amount of pressure he used to restrain Mr. Floyd – cautious enough to prevent bruising.”
Nelson submitted the filing to Hennepin County District Court on behalf of Chauvin, one of four Minneapolis police officers fired and later charged in connection with Floyd’s death. The other three former officers — J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao – are also seeking dismissal of the charges against them.
But prosecutors say the former officers should all face lengthy sentences if convicted, arguing in their own court filing that Floyd was “particularly vulnerable” to harm because he was handcuffed and officers allegedly treated Floyd with “particular cruelty” as he claimed he had trouble breathing in the minutes prior to his death, FOX 9 reported.
Last week, a Hennepin County medical examiner’s report said the amount of fentanyl in Floyd’s body was “pretty high,” and could be considered “a fatal level of fentanyl under normal circumstances.”
Ben Crump, an attorney for the Floyd family, has argued that widely seen video footage of Chauvin’s interaction with Floyd reinforces that Floyd posed no threat to the four officers.
“The more video evidence you see, the more unjustifiable George Floyd’s torture and death at the hands of the police becomes,” Crump said earlier this month. “Although the allegation against George was for a non-violent offense involving a $20 bill, the police officers approached him with guns drawn, simply because he was a Black man.”