In Brief

Autopsy report reveals George Floyd had coronavirus

Covid-19 listed under ‘other significant conditions’ but unrelated to the cause of death

George Floyd had the Covid-19 coronavirus when he died during an arrest by Minneapolis police that has sparked nationwide race protests, an autopsy has confirmed.

A newly published 20-page report from the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office reveals that Floyd initially tested positive for Covid-19 in early April, and was still infected at the time of his death. However, “the infection was not listed as a factor” in the 46-year-old’s death, says Reuters.

The post-mortem examination was carried out on 26 May, the day after Floyd died while being forcibly restrained by white police officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.

The report also notes that Floyd’s lungs appeared healthy but that he had some narrowing of arteries in the heart, Associated Press says.

The medical examiner concluded that Floyd had a heart attack while being forcefully restrained, and his death has been classified as a homicide. 

An earlier autopsy report had listed “fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine” use under “other significant conditions”, but not under “cause of death”. 

Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate that is at least 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. It can cause “severe respiratory depression and seizures” but is “approved for treating severe pain, typically advanced cancer pain”, says the public health institute. 

A separate, private autopsy commissioned by Floyd’s family had previously concluded that he died from asphyxiation due to compression on his back and neck.

Arresting officer Chauvin, who has been sacked, was charged yesterday with second-degree murder, in addition to the original charges of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Three other officers who were at the scene with Chauvin have also lost their jobs and been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.

Benjamin Crump, the Floyd family’s attorney, said on Twitter that they are “gratified” by the new, more severe charges.

But Crump told reporters that “he believes Chauvin should be charged with first-degree murder, which requires intent, and the charges only represent the first steps toward justice”, reports CNN.

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