Cop charged in George Floyd’s death argues he died by drug overdose, not knee on neck

A defense attorney for fired Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin is arguing that George Floyd actually died of a drug overdose — and not the actions of his client captured on video seen around the world planting his knee on the back of Floyd’s neck.

Defense attorney Eric J. Nelson filed a motion in Hennepin County, Minnesota District Court Friday, claiming prosecutors have failed to show probable cause for charging Chauvin with second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter — for which the former officer has pleaded not guilty, ABC News reported.

Chauvin was filmed with his knee on Floyd’s neck for almost eight minutes during the May 25 arrest as the 46-year-old begged, “I can’t breathe.”

Nelson’s motion — which pushes for the judge to drop all charges against Chauvin — comes about three months after the incident that sparked worldwide protests.

The attorney cited Floyd’s autopsy which indicated that fentanyl and methamphetamine — a drug combination known as a speedball — was found in his system.

Nelson also referenced the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s post-mortem report, which indicated Floyd had arteriosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease, hypertension and sickle cell trait. He additionally referenced Floyd’s claims that he had contracted COVID-19 and was still positive at the time of his death, a detail confirmed by his autopsy, according to ABC.

“Put simply, Mr. Floyd could not breathe because he had ingested a lethal dose of fentanyl and, possibly, a speedball,” Nelson’s motion said. “Combined with sickle cell trait, his pre-existing heart conditions, Mr. Floyd’s use of fentanyl and methamphetamine most likely killed him. Adding fentanyl and methamphetamine to Mr. Floyd’s existing health issues was tantamount to lighting a fuse on a bomb.”

In a footnote, he quoted Hennepin County Medical Examiner Dr. Andrew Baker as saying, “If [Mr. Floyd] were found dead at home alone and no other apparent causes, this could be acceptable to call an OD,” the network reported.

Nelson also argued that his client acted on his training from the Minneapolis Police Department, using a “Maximal Restraint Technique” out of concern that Floyd could harm himself or the other officers as they arrested him, according to the report.

He included training materials that show photos in which officers simulate putting their knee on a handcuffed subject’s neck.

“Thus, any risk created by Mr. Chauvin’s conduct lies largely with those who train MPD officers and those who approve such training,” Nelson wrote in the motion filed on Friday.

That technique “shall only be used in situations where handcuffed subjects are combative and still pose a threat to themselves, officers or others, or could cause significant damage to property if not properly restrained,” according to department policy.

The attorney for Floyd’s family, Benjamin Crump, did not respond to the network’s request for comment on Nelson’s motion. But previously, regarding the drugs in Floyd’s system, Crump said, “The cause of death was that he was starving for air. It was lack of oxygen. And so everything else is a red herring to try to throw us off.”

Earlier this month, Earl Gray, the attorney for Thomas Lane, one of the other officers charged in connection to Floyd’s death, similarly insisted in court papers that the real cause of Floyd’s death was a fentanyl overdose.

“None of these guys — even Chauvin — actually killed him,” Gray later told the Los Angeles Times of the death. “He killed himself.”

The medical examiner ruled Floyd’s death a homicide.

“Cause of death: Cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression,” the official report states.

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