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Two George Floyd Autopsies Conclude Homicide but for Different Reasons

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  • When charging now-former Officer Derek Chauvin Friday with the third-degree murder of George Floyd, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office concluded that Floyd had not died of asphyxiation. 
  • This report, which was preliminary, outraged many online and led to Floyd’s family pursuing a second, independent autopsy.
  • On Monday, both examinations released their findings. While both agreed Floyd died of homicide, their findings are different. 
  • Hennepin County determined Floyd died of “Cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.”
  • Meanwhile, the independent autopsy concluded that Floyd died of “mechanical asphyxiation.”

First Autopsy Releases Preliminary Report

The findings of two different autopsies give conflicting explanations as to how George Floyd died, though both have concluded that his death was a homicide.

The first autopsy was performed last week following Floyd’s death. It was conducted by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office.

On Friday, prosecutors charged now-former Officer Derek Chauvin with third-degree murder. With the charging, prosecutors included findings from the office’s preliminary report, which said the autopsy “revealed no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation. 

“Mr. Floyd had underlying health conditions including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease,” it added. “The combined effect of Mr. Floyd being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death.”

Still, the report notes that the incident, which resulted in Chauvin pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for at least eight minutes, was a contributing factor. 

Though the report seemingly provided insight into Floyd’s death, it failed to satisfy many people. In fact, it even seemed to stoke mounting outrage.

Others called for a second, independent autopsy, which Floyd’s family announced it would pursue soon after the preliminary autopsy went public. 

Alongside this, Floyd’s family said they were seeking to raise Chauvin’s murder charge from third- to first-degree.

First Autopsy Full Report

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office released its full report Monday, which listed Floyd’s manner of death as a homicide.

In that, the office listed Floyd’s cause of death as “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.”

Essentially, the report indicated that Floyd’s heart stopped beating and he went into cardiac arrest.

Among the “other significant conditions” listed in the report were Floyd’s pre-existing artery and heart diseases, as well as fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use. Notably, the report doesn’t go into detail about how much of each drug was in his system or how they may have contributed to his death.

Seemingly because of the heightened tension concerning the degree Chauvin’s murder charge and whether or not Chauvin explicitly intended to kill Floyd, the office also included this statement:

“Manner of death is not a legal determination of culpability or intent, and should not be used to usurp the judicial process. Such decisions are outside the scope of the Medical Examiner’s role or authority.”

Independent Autopsy

That same day, prior to that report being released, Floyd’s family presented the findings of its second, independent autopsy.

While it also ultimately concludes that Floyd died by homicide, its reasoning was markedly different, determining that Floyd had died of “mechanical asphyxiation.” 

The autopsy was conducted by former New York City chief medical examiner Michael Baden and the University of Michigan’s Allecia Wilson. Baden previously performed autopsies on Eric Garner and Michael Brown, who both died in 2014.

In this report, Baden and Wilson determined that Floyd specifically died of “asphyxiation from sustained pressure” after being pinned down by his neck and back.

Baden also said that he found hemorrhaging around Floyd’s right carotid artery that impeded blood flow to the brain.

“The compressive pressure of the neck and back are not seen at autopsy because the pressure has been released by the time the body comes to the medical examiner’s office,” Baden said in reference to why the first autopsy may not have concluded that Floyd died of asphyxia. “It can only be seen — serious compressive pressure on the neck and back can only be seen while the pressure is being applied or when, as in this instance, it is captured on video.”  

Also contrary to the results of that first autopsy, Baden said that no underlying medical condition caused or contributed to Floyd’s death and Floyd was in good health.

“Essentially, George died because he needed a breath,” Ben Crump, the family’s lawyer, said.

“For George Floyd, the ambulance was his hearse,” he added.

Crump also focused on the fact that the autopsy determined Floyd died not just from sustained pressure on the neck but also on the back. Using that as a platform, Crump further called for the arrests of the other three officers with Chauvin that day, two of which appear to be on top of or above Floyd’s back in a viral video.

In the announcement, Crump continued to call for Chauvin’s murder charge to be increased from third to first-degree murder.

For Chauvin to be charged and convicted of first-degree murder, he would have to be found guilty of not only actively trying to kill Floyd but also of pre-meditating it. Essentially, prosecutors would need to come up with evidence that Chauvin had a specific motive for killing Floyd.

Conversely, third-degree murder does not require an intent to kill. It only needs to prove that the perpetrator who caused someone’s death in a dangerous act did so “without regard for human life.”

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (CBS News) (CNN)

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Lincoln College to Close for Good After COVID and Ransomware Attack Ruin Finances

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Last year, 1,043 schools in the U.S. were the victim of ransomware attacks, including 26 colleges or universities, according to an analysis by Emsisoft.


One of the Only Historically Black Colleges in the Midwest Goes Down

After 157 years of educating mostly Black students in Illinois, Lincoln College will close its doors for good on Friday.

The college made the announcement last month, citing financial troubles caused by the coronavirus pandemic and a ransomware attack in December.

Enrollment dropped during the pandemic and the administration had to make costly investments in technology and campus safety measures, according to a statement from the school.

A shrinking endowment put additional pressure on the college’s budget.

The ransomware attack, which the college has said originated from Iran, thwarted admissions activities and hindered access to all institutional data. Systems for recruitment, retention, and fundraising were completely inoperable at a time when the administration needed them most.

In March, the college paid the ransom, which it has said amounted to less than $100,000. But according to Lincoln’s statement, subsequent projections showed enrollment shortfalls so significant the college would need a transformational donation or partnership to make it beyond the present semester.

The college put out a request for $50 million in a last-ditch effort to save itself, but no one came forward to provide it.

A GoFundMe aiming to raise $20 million for the college only collected $2,452 as of Tuesday.

Students and Employees Give a Bittersweet Goodbye

“The loss of history, careers, and a community of students and alumni is immense,” David Gerlach, the college’s president, said in a statement.

Lincoln counts nearly 1,000 enrolled students, and those who did not graduate this spring will leave the institution without degrees.

Gerlach has said that 22 colleges have worked with Lincoln to accept the remaining students, including their credits, tuition prices, and residency requirements.

“I was shocked and saddened by that news because of me being a freshman, so now I have to find someplace for me to go,” one student told WMBD News after the closure was announced.

When a group of students confronted Gerlach at his office about the closure, he responded with an emotional speech.

“I have been fighting hard to save this place,” he said. “But resources are resources. We’ve done everything we possibly could.”

On April 30, alumni were invited back to the campus to revisit the highlights of their college years before the institution closed.

On Saturday, the college held its final graduation ceremony, where over 200 students accepted their diplomas and Quentin Brackenridge performed the Lincoln Alma Mater.

Last year, 1,043 schools in the U.S. were the victim of ransomware attacks, including 26 colleges or universities, according to an analysis by Emsisoft.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Herald Review) (CNN)

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U.S. Tops One Million Coronavirus Deaths, WHO Estimates 15 Million Worldwide

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India’s real COVID death toll stands at about 4.7 million, ten times higher than official data, the WHO estimated.


One Million Dead

The United States officially surpassed one million coronavirus deaths Wednesday, 26 months after the first death was reported in late February of 2020.

Experts believe that figure is likely an undercount, since there are around 200,000 excess deaths, though some of those may not be COVID-related.

The figure is the equivalent of the population of San Jose, the tenth-largest city in the U.S., vanishing in just over two years. To put the magnitude in visual perspective, NECN published a graphic illustrating what one million deaths looks like.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the White House predicted between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans would die from the coronavirus in a best-case scenario.

By February 2021, over half a million Americans had died of COVID.

The coronavirus has become the third leading cause of death in the U.S. behind heart disease and cancer.

The pandemic’s effects go beyond its death toll. Around a quarter of a million children have lost a caregiver to the virus, including about 200,000 who lost one or both parents. Every COVID-related death leaves an estimated nine people grieving.

The virus has hit certain industries harder than others, with food and agriculture, warehouse operations and manufacturing, and transportation and construction seeing especially high death rates.

People’s mental health has also been affected, with a study in January of five Western countries including the U.S. finding that 13% of people reported symptoms of PTSD attributable to actual or potential contact with the virus.

Fifteen Million Dead

On Thursday, the World Health Organization estimated that nearly 15 million people have died from the pandemic worldwide, a dramatic revision from the 5.4 million previously reported in official statistics.

Between January 2020 and the end of last year, the WHO estimated that between 13.3 million and 16.6 million people died either due to the coronavirus directly or because of factors somehow attributed to the pandemic’s impact on health systems, such as cancer patients who were unable to seek treatment when hospitals were full of COVID patients.

Based on that range, scientists arrived at an approximate total of 14.9 million.

The new estimate shows a 13% increase in deaths than is usually expected for a two-year period.

“This may seem like just a bean-counting exercise, but having these WHO numbers is so critical to understanding how we should combat future pandemics and continue to respond to this one,” Dr. Albert Ko, an infectious diseases specialist at the Yale School of Public Health who was not linked to the WHO research, told the Associated Press.

Most of the deaths occurred in Southeast Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

According to the WHO, India counts the most deaths by far with 4.7 million, ten times its official number.

See what others are saying: (NBC) (U.S. News and World Report) (Scientific American)

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Official Says Missing Alabama Convict and Corrections Officer Had a “Special Relationship”

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Authorities have also said they now believe the officer willfully helped the inmate escape.


New Information on Missing Inmate & Officer

Authorities in Alabama revealed Tuesday that Assistant Director of Corrections for Lauderdale County Vicky White, who is accused of helping a murder suspect Casey Cole White escape from jail, had a “special relationship” with the inmate.

“Investigators received information from inmates at the Lauderdale County Detention Center over the weekend that there was a special relationship between Director White and inmate Casey White,” Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton said in a statement. “That relationship has now been confirmed through our investigation by independent sources and means.”

Officials have previously said that the two are not related, despite their shared surname.

Singleton elaborated on the nature of the relationship while speaking to CNN later on Tuesday. He said it took place “outside of her normal work hours” and added that although it did not include “physical contact,” he still characterized it as “a relationship of a different nature.”

“We were told Casey White got special privileges and was treated differently while in the facility than the other inmates,” Singleton said.

Also on Tuesday, the Marshals Service issued a statement confirming that authorities believe Officer White had helped Mr. White escape. The authorities described her as a “wanted fugitive” and offered a $5,000 reward for any information on her whereabouts. Earlier this week, the Marshals Service also offered a $10,000 reward for any information that could lead to Mr. White’s capture.

Singleton echoed the belief that Officer White’s actions were intentional while speaking to Good Morning America Wednesday.

“I think all of our employees and myself included were really hoping that she did not participate in this willingly. But all indications are that she absolutely did,” he said. “We’re very disappointed in that because we had the utmost trust in her as an employee and as an assistant director of corrections.”

Mysterious Escape

Vicky White and Casey White were last seen leaving the Lauderdale County jail just after 9:30 a.m. Friday. The officer told other employees that she was taking the inmate to a mental health evaluation at a courthouse just down the road, and that she would be going to a medical appointment after because she was not feeling well.

Officials later said her actions violated an official policy that required two sworn deputies to transport people with murder charges. In 2020, Mr. White was charged with two counts of capital murder in connection to a fatal stabbing he confessed to and was awaiting his trial in Lauderdale County.

Mr. White was also serving time for what officials said was a “crime spree” in 2015 which included home invasion, carjacking, and a police chase. He had also previously tried to escape from jail, police said.

It wasn’t until 3:30 p.m. on Friday that a jail employee reported to higher-ups that he was not able to reach Officer White on her phone and that Mr. White had never been returned to his cell.

During a press conference that same night, Singleton told reporters that there had never even been a scheduled mental health evaluation. At another briefing Monday, he announced that an arrest warrant had been issued for Vicky on a charge of “permitting or facilitating an escape in the first degree.”

At the time, Singleton said it was unclear “whether she did that willingly or was coerced or threatened” but added, “we know for sure she did participate.” 

See what others are saying: (CNN) (ABC News) (NPR)

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