Dr. Martin Tobin on the witness stand at the Derek Chauvin murder trial. Photo provided
By MRS Online
Day nine of the Derek Chauvin murder trial was a pivotal one for the prosecution. After a series of police officer testimony throughout the week, the prosecution changed gears on Thursday and called medical experts to make the state’s case for the cause of George Floyd’s death.
Chief among today’s witnesses was pulmonologist Dr. Martin Tobin. The Chicago-based lung and critical care specialist took the witness stand first. His testimony took up the greater part of the morning, and by all accounts, he was the most compelling witness for the prosecution since MPD Chief Medaria Arradondo on Monday.
Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell asked the pulmonology expert about his extensive background and established the fact that the renowned doctor was not being paid for his testimony.
He then asked Dr. Tobin what he determined was the cause of Floyd’s death. Tobin replied, “Mr. Floyd died of a low level of oxygen. This caused damage to his brain that we see and it also caused a PEA [pulseless electrical activity] arrhythmia that caused his heart to stop.”
“Have you formed an opinion to a reasonable degree of medical certainty as to what the cause was for the low level of oxygen in Mr. Floyd?” Blackwell asked.
Tobin said, “The cause of the low level of oxygen was shallow breathing. Small breaths … Shallow breaths that wasn’t able to carry the air through his lungs down to the essential areas of the lungs that get oxygen into the blood and get rid of the carbon dioxide.”
Tobin told the jurors he’d viewed all of the videos of the May 25, 2020, fatal arrest, and certain segments of the videos hundreds of times. His findings were that Floyd’s shallow breaths were caused by four contributing factors: the handcuffs; the knee on the neck; the prone position on the street; and the knee on the back, arms, and sides.
Blackwell had Dr. Tobin talk through each factor for the jurors. Tobin explained how the police officers’ weight on the left side of Floyd’s body shut down his left lung “almost to the effect as if a surgeon went in and removed the lung,” Dr. Tobin testified.
Looking directly at the jurors and with his Irish accent, Dr. Tobin broke down complex medical terms in easy-to-understand language. With calm and matter-of-fact authority, the doctor described a torturous death for Floyd.
Tobin showed a still of Floyd’s knuckle on a car tire next to where he was pinned to the street. He explained that Floyd was attempting to use his fingers and knuckle to lift himself up so his chest could expand, and he could breathe.
His presentation showed where Chauvin’s feet were completely off the ground, meaning his full weight was on Floyd. “A healthy person subjected to what Mr. Floyd was subjected to would have died as a result,” said Tobin.
Reposted with permission from Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.