The official autopsy for George Floyd carried out by state officials has revealed the 46-year-old had previously tested positive for coronavirus.
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office released the full autopsy results with the consent of the victim’s family.
The 20-page report was released on Thursday (AEST) and will be at the centre of a highly-charged effort to prosecute the four officers who are charged over the death of Mr Floyd after he was taken into custody.
The autopsy provides several clinical details, including that Mr Floyd had tested positive for COVID-19 in early April.
The autopsy, however, did not cite COVID-19 as a factor in his death, suggesting Mr Floyd had a mild case and was likely asymptomatic at the time of his death.
“Since … positivity for [COVID-19] can persist for weeks after the onset and resolution of clinical disease, the autopsy result most likely reflects asymptomatic but persistent … positivity from previous infection,” the report said.
Despite testing positive for coronavirus on April 3, the report also noted Mr Floyd’s lungs appeared healthy but mentioned he had some narrowing of arteries in the heart.
The public release of the official autopsy report comes two days after the coroner’s office released summary findings which stated Mr Floyd had a heart attack while being restrained by officers, and classified his May 25th death as a homicide.
Immediately following his death, a report by the Hennepin County medical examiner appeared to pave the way for exonerating the police officers, one of whom kneeled on Mr Floyd’s neck for close to eight minutes.
The medical examiner’s preliminary conclusion was that Mr Floyd did not die of “traumatic asphyxia or strangulation” and highlighted exculpatory factors including “underlying health conditions including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease” and potential intoxicants in the victim’s system.
However days later a private autopsy commissioned by the Floyd family concluded that he died of asphyxiation due to neck and back compression.
The publicly released state autopsy shows Mr Floyd tested “presumptive positive for cannabinoids, amphetamines, and fentanyl”.
The county’s earlier summary report had listed fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use under “other significant conditions” but not under “cause of death.” The full report’s footnotes noted that signs of fentanyl toxicity can include “severe respiratory depression” and seizures.
Mr Floyd’s death at the hands of police has sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and institutionalised racism that have spread to other western countries including Australia, drawing large crowds for protests despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison on Wednesday, local time, upgraded charges against officer Derek Chauvin, who pressed his knee on the neck of Mr Floyd, to 2nd-degree murder, and also charged the three other officers on the scene with aiding and abetting.
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