George Floyd died not just because of the knee lodged at his neck by a Minneapolis Police officer, but also because of the other officers who helped hold him down, a private autopsy found.
Dr. Allecia M. Wilson of the University of Michigan and Dr. Michael Baden, a former New York City medical examiner, were hired by Mr. Floyd’s family to help determine his cause of death. “Not only was the knee on George’s neck a cause of his death, but so was the weight of the other two police officers on his back, who not only prevented blood flow into his brain but also air flow into his lungs,” said Antonio Romanucci, a lawyer for the family.
Well I guess that settles it, then! And that Hennepin County medical examiner conclusion that the county autopsy “revealed no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation,” and that ” that other factors were involved in Mr. Floyd’s death, including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease”? Obviously rigged, wrong and based on racism. Or a cover-up. Or something.
Autopsies are not supposed to be advocacy proceedings. For the Floyd family to bring out their own, bought and paid-for autopsy to contradict the official one means that the case is being litigated in the news media and outside of the courtroom, and that is not the “justice” that Floyd’s protesters supposedly seek.
It doesn’t matter whether I, or anyone, prefers one autopsy over the other. To me, it is intrinsically obvious that having a man kneel on your neck until you lose consciousness while two other full grown men are applying their weight to your back would lend more than coincidental cause to your demise, but hey, I’m just an ethicist. I have to rely on the trustworthiness of other professionals whose job it is to determine such things.
Here’s the problem: the official medical examiner gets his salary no matter what he determines. The Floyd family autopsy was bought and paid for, unless you really think the family’s lawyers paid two doctors without knowing for absolute certain that they weren’t going to announce, “Son of a bitch! Our examination showed that the actions of former officer Chauvin had nothing whatsoever to do with George Floyd’s death! Turns out he was lying on a piece of peanut brittle, which seeped into his system through a spot where his skin was exposed and sent him into anaphylactic shock.”
Reducing what are supposed to be objective, unbiased medical opinions into partisan, manipulated positions aimed at seeking a particular legal result renders them useless. Worse, really: confounding.
Of course, the Times had an ethical obligation to note the inherent bias of any purchased expert opinion arranged by the victim’s family.
Of course, the Times did nothing of the kind, saying what the autopsy “found.” “Found implies objective inquiry. That is false and misleading.