The Last 66 Minutes of George Floyd’s life

Hope for change implicit bias injury prevention law enforcement Police Reform Racially biased policing society and health

I am done crying and feeling lost and worthless. I am done cursing God, life and the day the first European set foot in West Africa. I am done wondering “Why?”
Now back to what I do best. What for me is really cathartic.
Here we go:

The events that led to the death of George Floyd on the evening of May 25 2020 in Minneapolis, MN are clearly spelled out in the criminal complaint against Derek Chauvin. This account was crafted from that as well as from the Fire Department and EMS records from that fateful evening.

Mr. Floyd was initially arrested by Officer Lane and Kueng around 8:10 pm for trying to pass a forged $20 bill at Cup Foods in Minneapolis.
They got him out of his car, handcuffed him, and led him to their squad car. The problems started when they tried to get him into the squad car. Reportedly, he refused to get into the car complaining of shortness of breath.

It was during this process that Officers Chauvin and Tou Thoa arrived in another car on the scene. From the report, it looks like Officer Chauvin then took control of the situation and tried to get the six-foot George Floyd into the car.
At 8:19:38 pm, Mr. Chauvin gave up trying to get Mr. Floyd into the car and pulled him out. The latter fell face down on the ground, still handcuffed.
Officer Kueng held Mr. Floyd’s back while Officer Thomas Lane held his legs. Officer Chauvin placed his left knee in the area of George Floyd’s head and neck.

Though Mr. Floyd complained several times of being unable to breathe, the officers told him he was talking fine. The officers never moved as he squirmed and complained. At one point Officer Lane wondered if they should not turn him on his side. Officer Chauvin disagreed.
Officer Lane then said, “I am worried about excited delirium or whatever.”
Officer Chauvin replied, “That is why we have him on his stomach.”
The officers held their positions.
At 8:24:24 pm, almost 5 min after they started restraining him, George Floyd stopped moving.
The officers stayed put.

At 8:25:31, Mr. Floyd stopped speaking or breathing.
Officer Lane asked, “Should we turn him on his side?”
Officer Chauvin did not budge. Officer Lane and Kueng stayed put too but the latter felt for George Floyd’s pulse.
“I could not find one”, Officer Kueng revealed.
None of the officers moved from their positions – Officer Chauvin kept his left knee on his neck, Officer Kueng held his back, and Officer Lane his legs.
At 8:27:24 pm, Mr. Chauvin took his knee off the neck of George Floyd. That was after the ambulance arrived and the paramedics realized George Floyd was in cardiac arrest. That is when Officer Chauvin took his knee off George Floyd’s neck The other officers evidently let go too, then they helped load the unresponsive and pulseless Mr. Floyd onto the gurney.
Officer Chauvin’s knee had been on George Floyd’s neck for a total of 8 min 46. Two minutes 53 seconds of this time was when Mr. Floyd was unresponsive.

The ambulance drove off, headed for the Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC). The reason the paramedics did not resuscitate him at the scene was because they realized the direness of the situation and knew they could not waste time.

Shortly thereafter, the Fire Engine 17 arrived without lights and sirens. The initial call started as a Code 2 to assist EMS on a scene, not the more urgent Code 3, indicating a life-threatening situation. Preliminary information given to firefighters said only that Floyd had “trauma to his mouth”. Soon, they were informed by Dispatch that the medics who just left the scene needed assistance, so they moved a few blocks away to meet up with the ambulance. Two firefighters entered the ambulance and joined the two paramedics in there who were doing CPR on George Floyd.

En route to HCMC, a paramedic called ahead:
“I’ve got a red medical, we’ll be there in approximately six minutes. Thirties, male, was being detained by PD … was on a … was a cardiac arrest upon EMS arrival, apparently doing CPR, getting access, getting vitals, bagging, calling ACLS, we’ll be there in six minutes, red medical, COVID symptoms are unknown.”

George Floyd was intubated, ventilated, and had an iv placed. As he remained pulseless, he was defibrillated once. He stayed pulseless.
George Floyd was delivered to the ER staff at Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) shortly before 9 pm. The ER team resuscitated him further. Finally, at 9:25 pm, George Floyd was declared dead at HCMC, in Minneapolis, MN. He was 46 years old.

So what or who killed George Floyd?
Was it Officer Chauvin’s knee on his neck for a total of 8 min 46? Did Chauvin’s knee on his neck and the prone position cause restraint asphyxia, cutting off his breathing and thus oxygen supply to his brain…basically suffocating him?
Did Officer Chauvin’s knee compress his carotid arteries and cut off blood flow to his brain leading to stroke and death?
Did he die from the controversial excited delirium?
Was it his history of coronary artery disease, hypertension, and potential intoxicants in his blood that did him in?
Was it a combination of everything that happened?

I’ll discuss that and that controversial autopsy report in a another post but in the interim if you are not black and are reading this, learn to make black lives matter to you. Learn to see the humanity beneath the dark skin. Be cognizant of your biases against blacks and deal with them. If you already treasure black lives, good for you. If not, its never too late. If you cannot be bothered, unfriend me and go to hell!

RIP, George Floyd.

By Nana Dadzie Ghansah an anesthesiologist who lives and works in Lexington Kentucky

Feature photo: Mural portrait of George Floyd by Eme Street Art in Mauerpark (Berlin, Germany)


A physician providing primary medical care to patients across the lifespan