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14 Apr, 2021 18:19

ACLU & others blast medical expert testifying Floyd died of cardiac arrest, point to lawsuit against him in ‘eerily similar’ case

ACLU & others blast medical expert testifying Floyd died of cardiac arrest, point to lawsuit against him in ‘eerily similar’ case

Dr. David Fowler, Maryland’s former chief medical examiner, has become the center of attention in the Derek Chauvin trial after he testified for the defense that George Floyd’s death was due to cardiac arrhythmia.

Shortly after Fowler’s testimony, critics were quick to dig into the medical examiner’s professional history, noting his involvement in multiple use-of-force cases involving police, including that of Anton Black, a 19-year-old black man who died in police custody in 2018.

“The medical examiner, in my opinion, was egregious in the way he finalized Anton’s autopsy results. Now, he’s being called to be an expert witness for another police officer,” Black’s sister, LaToya Holley, told news outlet WTOP shortly before Fowler’s testimony. 

Fowler is currently facing a lawsuit from Black’s family. 

The Maryland ACLU, which is also involved in the lawsuit, similarly released a statement attempting to discredit Fowler, noting that under his leadership, the Maryland Office of the Medical Examiner “has been complicit in creating false narratives about what kills Black people in police encounters,” citing several cases, including Black’s death.

The lawsuit accuses Fowler of obstructing the investigation into Black’s death by delaying the release of his autopsy report and being improperly influenced by police. 

Black died of cardiac arrest after struggling with police and being restrained in a prone position for six minutes after being handcuffed and tasered, according to the lawsuit. No one was charged in the matter. Black, who had been recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder, was reportedly suffering a mental health crisis, and police were dispatched to the scene after a 911 call informed them of an altercation involving him. 

Like Floyd, videos of Black’s final moments were seen by the public and quickly caused controversy and led to accusations of racism and police brutality. The similarities between the two men have led to renewed interest in Black’s case, and caused many on social media to quickly dismiss Fowler’s testimony.

Fowler testified that Floyd’s death was the result of underlying health conditions, like heart disease and drug use, combined with exposure to carbon monoxide while he was restrained on the ground by Chauvin.

“All of those combined to cause Mr. Floyd’s death,” he said. 

On top of his work as chief medical examiner in Maryland for a total of 17 years, Fowler is also a forensic pathology consultant for the Forensics Panel, which performs peer reviews on cases. 

Fowler’s testimony in the Floyd case contradicts others put forth by the prosecution, including expert pulmonologist Martin Tobin, who testified that Floyd was in respiratory distress directly because of the actions of Chauvin. 

“A healthy person subjected to what Floyd was subjected to would have died as a result of what he was subjected to,” Tobin told the court. 

Also on rt.com Minneapolis prosecutor calls pulmonology expert to throw some light on murder charges against Derek Chauvin

Chauvin’s trial was already receiving plenty of attention from activists, given Floyd’s death set off months of Black Lives Matter protests across the country last year. It has become an especially hotly debated topic as Minnesota now finds itself dealing with more protests, some of which have turned violent, after Daunte Wright was shot by police officer Kimberly Potter on Sunday.

Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon had previously said he believed the shooting to be accidental, telling reporters the officer likely meant to pull their taser. Potter is now being charged with second-degree manslaughter, according to the Washington County Attorney's Office.

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