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Defense's Medical Expert In Derek Chauvin Trial Says George Floyd's Cause Of Death Is Undetermined

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Dr. David Fowler was on the stand all day, Esme Murphy reports (3:26). WCCO 4 News At 5 - April 14, 2021

Video Transcript

- Well, a defense expert testified that George Floyd's manner of death cannot be determined because there are so many conflicting contributing factors.

AMELIA SANTANIELLO: Dr. David Fowler was on the stand all day. The forensic pathologist said that the factors contributing to the death included George Floyd's drug use and his underlying heart conditions.

Esme Murphy joins us now from outside the courthouse. Esme.

ESME MURPHY: Good evening, Amelia. Well, Dr. Fowler testified about something we have not heard about. He believes a contributing factor to George Floyd's death was carbon-monoxide poisoning because his face was so close to the exhaust of the squad car.

The defense used this still as Dr. David Fowler testified that George Floyd had to have suffered from carbon-monoxide poisoning because his head was so close to the squad's exhaust.

ERIC NELSON: You're not suggesting to the jury that Mr. Floyd died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

DAVID FOWLER: Not exclusively, no.

ERIC NELSON: Was Mr Floyd's blood tested for carbon monoxide?

DAVID FOWLER: I could not find a reference to it, no.

ESME MURPHY: In fact, Floyd was never tested for carbon monoxide. But Fowler said because of his heart conditions, Floyd was vulnerable to even a small amount.

DAVID FOWLER: He had significant narrowing of all of his coronary arteries.

ESME MURPHY: Dr. Fowler also testified about Floyd's possibly consuming drugs.

ERIC NELSON: Did you determine whether there was the possibility that controlled substances were ingested at the time of approach by officers Kueng and Lane?

DAVID FOWLER: Yes. In the back corner of Mr Floyd's mouth you can see what appears to be a white object.

ESME MURPHY: But the prosecution introduced stills of Floyd in Cup Foods.

JERRY BLACKWELL: You see a white substance in George Floyd's mouth there?

DAVID FOWLER: I can.

JERRY BLACKWELL: And doesn't it look remarkably similar to the white substance that you were talking about?

DAVID FOWLER: Yes, it looks very similar.

JERRY BLACKWELL: So you are not then either telling or suggesting to the jury that the white substance was a pill, are you?

DAVID FOWLER: I never said it was a pill. I carefully said that I could see a white structure in his mouth.

ESME MURPHY: The prosecution also got Dr. Fowler to say Floyd deserved care.

JERRY BLACKWELL: Do you feel that Mr. Floyd should have been given immediate emergency attention to try to reverse the cardiac arrest?

DAVID FOWLER: As a physician, I would agree.

ESME MURPHY: But the defense pushed back, clearly hoping Fowler's most important conclusion could lead to at least one juror finding reasonable doubt.

ERIC NELSON: How would you classify the manner of death?

DAVID FOWLER: So this is one of those cases where you have so many conflicting different manners. I would fall back to undetermined in this particular case.

ESME MURPHY: Now, this case is actually drawing to a close. The defense is expected to rest tomorrow. There could be a prosecution rebuttal witness. The judge has said he wants to give the jury Friday off and have closing arguments on Monday, which means the jury would get this case early next week.

AMELIA SANTANIELLO: All right, Esme, thank you.

And we are covering the entire trial live on CBSN Minnesota, our digitally streaming-- our digital streaming site. And Jason DeRusha has gavel-to-gavel coverage, bringing us context and analysis with the help of an outside attorney.

And we make it easy to watch. You just point your phone's camera at your screen to download the free WCCO app, and you can also watch on CBS News app or wcco.com.