MINNEAPOLIS - It was a video that everyone in the courtroom has been shown repeatedly, of George Floydown facing the street with Derek Chauvin's knee on his neck. But this time it was slowed down so the jury could see the briefest widening of Mr. Floyd's eyes - what the expert witness on the stand Thursday said was his last conscious moment.
"One second he is alive, and one second he is no longer ", said the witness, Dr Martin Tobin, adding: "This is when life comes out of his body.
Dr. Tobin, a pulmonologist specializing in the mechanics of breathing , presented the prosecution's first lengthy testimony on a central issue in Mr. Chauvin's murder trial: how George Floyd died. "You see fatal brain injuries here from lack of oxygen," said Dr Tobin.
Dr. Tobin stated that Mr.. Chauvin and other police officers had restricted Mr. Floyd's breathing by flattening his rib cage against the sidewalk and pushing his cuffed hands into his chest, and placing Mr. Chauvin's knees on his neck. and his back.
The doctor identified the moment when he said that Mr. Floyd had shown signs of a brain injury, four minutes before Mr. Chauvin did lifts the knee from his body.
After two days of sometimes tedious testimonies from law enforcement on procedures and being fascinated by Dr Tobin's ability to break down complex physiological concepts, sometimes scribbling notes in unison. Image Dr Martin Tobin, a pulmonologist specializing in respiratory mechanics, testified Thursday on a central issue in Derek Chauvin 's essay. Credit ... Still image, via Court TV
Leaning into the microphone, tie slightly askew, Dr. Tobin used his hands and elbows to show how people breathe. He gave anatomy lessons by asking jurors to feel their own necks, and showed the renderingof an artist of how three officers, including Mr. Chauvin, had been positioned on Mr. Floyd.
He gave his opinions without the slightest ambivalence, noting that his conclusions were based on "very precise " scientific knowledge such as oxygen level when someone loses consciousness.
Dr. Tobin testified that he has watched portions of the video evidence hundreds of times. He had calculated what he said was the exact weight Mr. Chauvin had placed on Mr. Floyd's neck (86.9 pounds), timed Mr. Floyd's respiratory rate, and marked when he was gaining. his last breath: 8:25:15 PM
He reassured jurors that many of the medical terms they heard during the trial - hypoxia, asphyxia, anoxia - basically mean the same thing, "an extremely low level of oxygen.
His testimony may help prosecutors overcome the fact that the official autopsy report did not use the word" asphyxia "and appeared to Mr. Chauvin's knee position, which came up several times.
"I don 't think I have seen an expert witness as effective as this, " said Mary Moriarty, the former chief public defender of the county. de Hennepin, who followed the televised trial. "He seems to be the world's foremost expert on the subject, and he explained everything in English, in layman's terms. The trial of Derek Chauvin ›
The jury heard morerepeatedly that the police learn that it is dangerous to hold people face down on the ground. Dr Tobin told the jury exactly why, first explaining that just lying down reduces lung capacity.
On top of that, a knee on the neck compressed Mr. Floyd's airways, he said, and the weight on his back alone made it breathe. three times harder than normal.
Dr. Tobin dismissed the oft-repeated adage that someone who can speak can breathe, calling it a "very dangerous mantra to have over there.
This is technically true, he said, but "it gives you a huge false sense of security.
"Certainly by the time you speak you are breathing ", he continued, "but that doesn't tell you that you are going breathe five seconds later. ” Using video stills, Dr. Tobin showed the efforts Mr. Floyd had made to free his torso enough to breathe, trying to use his shoulder , the tips of his fingers and even his face, smashed flat against the sidewalk, as a lever against the weight of Mr. Chauvin.
He pointed to Mr. toe. Chauvin 's boot lifted off the sidewalk and the revealing kick to Mr. Floyd's legs which , he said, indicated that he suffered a brain injury 5 minutes and 3 seconds after Mr. Chauvin placed his knee on Mr. Floyd's neck for the first time. Image Evidence presented by the prosecution. Dr Tobin said the weight on George Floyd's back made it three times harder to breathe than normal.the. Credit ... Still image, via Court TV
The prosecution used Dr. Tobin to punch holes in the defense argument as the Mr. Floyd's death was caused by his use of fentanyl, an underlying heart disease and other physical ailments.
"A healthy person subjected to what Mr. Floyd was subjected to would have died as a result," said Dr. Tobin.
Dr. Tobin was born in rural Ireland, attended medical school in Dublin and spoke with a sweet Irish tune. He is a doctor in pulmonary medicine and intensive care at Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital and Loyola University Medical Center in the Chicago area and has been practicing for over 40 years, but this was the first time hewas testifying in a criminal case.
He said he has testified several times in medical malpractice cases and waived his usual fees of $ 500 l Time for the Chauvin trial.
Experts say working for free could cut two ways, either impress the jury or suggest the witness was biased in favor of one side. Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric J. Nelson, has attempted to highlight the latter possibility. "Have you agreed to waive your hourly rate for this period? " He asked. "You thought it was an important case, right?
Dr. Tobin disputed a defense claim that a high level of carbon dioxide found in Mr. Floyd's blood was a result of the use of fentanyl, attributing it instead to the length of time it does not breathenot before receiving artificial respiration in an ambulance.
He said that if fentanyl had had a significant effect, Mr. Floyd's respiratory rate would have been slower than normal and that if the heart disease of Mr. Floyd had been serious, it would have been faster. Instead, the rate was normal, he said.
Mr. Nelson pushed back, continuing to make his argument that Mr. Floyd's death could have been from an overdose.
He asked if Mr. Floyd 's breathing could have been inhibited if he had taken fentanyl in the moments before the ground. Dr Tobin agreed it could have been, but said Mr Floyd never went into a coma, as he would have if he had overdosed.
The prosecution called two other witnesses on Thursday who disqualifiedenti the claim that Mr. Floyd died of an overdose. Daniel Isenschmid, forensic toxicologist at N.M.S. Laboratories in Pennsylvania, where Mr. Floyd’s blood was tested, said the level of fentanyl in his system was far from clearly fatal. He said it was common for drunk drivers who had consumed fentanyl and survived to have an even higher drug level than that found in Mr. Floyd's blood.
Dr. William Smock, the police surgeon for the Louisville Metro Police Department and professor of emergency medicine at the Louisville School of Medicine. University of Louisville said Floyd would have been much more depressed if he had overdosed on fentanyl. “He's breathing. He speaks. He doesn't snore "said Dr Smock.
" He says: "Please let go of me. I want to breathe. I don'tcan't breathe. "This is not an overdose of fentanyl. It is someone who begs to breathe.
The report was provided by Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and Tim Arango of Minneapolis, John Eligon of Kansas City, Missouri, and Sheri Fink and Haley Willis of New York.