Doctor Who Declared George Floyd Dead Talks ‘Excited Delirium,’ Drug Use During Derek Chauvin Trial

Amnon Free Press

The doctor who declared George Floyd dead said Monday on the stand that he believed Floyd died of cardiac arrest caused by an oxygen deficiency, or asphyxia.

Dr. Bradford Langenfeld said that, initially, one of his “leading theories” was that excited delirium, which can be caused by drugs, triggered the lack of oxygen.

Langenfeld, though, thought at the time that this was unlikely because paramedics did not indicate to him that the then-unidentified man was sweating or appeared agitated — both very common in drug overdoses.

“I’ve seen a lot of cases of mental health crises or drug use leading to severe agitated states,” he said. “That is almost always reported by paramedics, and so the absence of that information was telling.”

According to The New York Times, there isn’t a “generally accepted definition of excited delirium, according to a 2018 review of the scientific literature, but it is used to describe someone who becomes distressed or aggressive from a mental illness or the use of psychoactive drugs.”

However, Langenfeld, who was the prosecution’s first witness, later acknowledged to Eric Nelson, a defense attorney for former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, that drug use, specifically fentanyl and methamphetamine use, could cause hypoxia or asphyxiation.

Here’s how part of the exchange went: 

Nelson: There are many things that cause hypoxia that are still considered asphyxiation?

Langenfeld: Correct.

Nelson: Drug use, certain drugs, can cause hypoxia?

Langenfeld: Correct.

Nelson: Specifically fentanyl?

Langenfeld: That’s correct. 

Nelson: How about methamphetamine?

Langenfeld: It can.

Nelson: Combination of the two?

Langenfeld: Yes.

Nelson also questioned Langenfeld about carbon dioxide levels relative to shortness of breath.

The doctor agreed that higher levels of CO2 can lead to a sensation of a shortness of breath, even without added stress. Langenfeld also said that fentanyl can cause higher CO2 levels, “because it depresses the ventilation, or the breathing.” 

Floyd’s CO2 levels were double what is average when Langenfeld attended to him, he said.

When Floyd was in Langenfeld’s care, at no time did he have a heartbeat sufficient to “sustain life.” After a half hour of working on Floyd, the emergency room doctor declared him dead.

After officers were notified on May 25 that Floyd allegedly gave counterfeit money at a convenience store, Chauvin and three other officers arrested and detained Floyd. Viral video shows that Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes while detaining Floyd.

Chauvin’s attorneys are arguing that Floyd’s drug use was a crucial factor in his death, as was emphasized on Monday. As highlighted by The Daily Wire, the Hennepin County medical examiner said that Floyd’s autopsy showed the deceased had potentially lethal levels of drugs in his system.

Chauvin is currently on trial for second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in relation to Floyd’s death. The former officer can be found guilty of all, some, or none of the charges since they are all separate.

Since he has no criminal history, Chauvin is likely looking at “serving about 12 1/2 years whether he is convicted of second or third-degree murder,” according to The Associated Press. The manslaughter charge, which has the lowest burden of proof, would bring a maximum of 10 years in prison.

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