‘I can’t breathe’: What does mechanical asphyxiation which led to George Floyd’s death mean?

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George Floyd’s family commissioned a medical examiner who, in an autopsy report, revealed that the young black male’s death took place due to mechanical asphyxiation. The report also noted three officers contributed to his death.

George Floyd and Derek Chauvin were both employees of a nightclub in Minneapolis throughout 2019

The young black man lost his life after a police officer pressed his knee on his neck — resulting in violent protests across the United States.

Mechanical asphyxiation, in easy terms, means that Floyd’s heart stopped beating, his lungs could not take in air and that physical force interfered with his oxygen supply while he was being restrained by the officer.

The external pressure prevented breathing due to a compression of the lungs and diaphragm.

Earlier in 2014, an unarmed African American male Eric Garner was killed by a police officer who used a banned chokehold on him.

Garner’s dying words of “I can’t breathe” became a flashpoint in a national debate over race and police use of force, reported CBS news.

The lawyer representing Floyd’s family, Ben Camp, said: “George died because he needed a breath […] He needed a breath of air.”

The cause of death, according to the private autopsy, was mechanical asphyxia and the manner of death was homicide.

The Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, who planted his knee on Floyd’s neck, has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, while the three other officers involved in the incident have not been charged yet.

Dozens of cities are under curfews not seen since riots after the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.