Did Opioid Fentanyl Kill George Floyd? Medical Examiner Reveals Fatally High Level of Drug in System

A medical examiner in the case found what he regards as 'very high' quantity of an opioid called fentanyl in George Floyd's body.

While the US still struggles to come to grips with the repercussions of George Floyd's death that occurred some months ago, a new development has taken place in the actual case. Documents filed in the court where trial of the four accused ex-police officers is taking place shows that the medical examiner who analysed Floyd's body found very high levels of fentanyl.

This drug – fentanyl – is an opioid which is also taken as a recreational drug. According to Dr. Andrew Baker, chief medical examiner in Hennepin County, Floyd had a "fatal level" of this substance inside his system. However, Dr. Baker is "not saying this killed him," the report clarifies.

This is not the first time that the presence of fentanyl in Floyd's system has been mentioned. It was also mentioned in a memorandum filed by the Attorney of Hennepin County in June also cited Dr. Baker pointing out that this opioid was present in a very high quantity in the dead man's body.

George Floyd
George Floyd (left) succumbed to the choke-hold applied by the Minneapolis police officer (right) Twitter / @Kwamiena

Autopsies Done on Floyd's Body

In fact, the memo went as far as to say that if there was no assault, the death of the young man would have been easily attributed to fentanyl. "(Dr. Baker) said that if Floyd had been found dead in his home (or anywhere else) and there were no other contributing factors he would conclude that it was an overdose death."

However, it has also been pointed out by experts, including Dr. Michael Baden who also conducted an autopsy on Floyd's body, on the part of his family, that the effect of fentanyl varies with each person. What may be an unbearable quantity of this narcotic for someone might be tolerable for others. Hence, even if the 46-year old man had very high quantities, it may not have been necessarily fatal for him.

Derek Chauvin
Derek Chauvin is the chief accused in the case Twitter/Shaun King

Those who examined Floyd's dead body at the Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner came to this conclusion: "His death was caused by the police subdual and restraint in the setting of severe hypertensive atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, and methamphetamine and fentanyl intoxication."

Little Hope for Accused

In other words, the four officers involved in the killing, especially the main culprit Derek Chauvin who put his knee on the African-American man's neck and kept it pressed despite several protestations from him that "I can't breathe," cannot be freed from their responsibility for causing the death.

As of now, the best-case scenario for these accused, all of whom had been fired from the police department, is that it turns out that the presence of fentanyl played a key part in Floyd succumbing to the chokehold. However, even that looks unlikely.