IRISH physician Dr Martin Tobin was called back to the trial of Derek Chauvin yesterday to establish the facts around the death of George Floyd, a black man who died while Chauvin was taking him into police custody.
Not mincing his words, Dr Tobin, from Co. Kilkenny, said that defence witness Dr. David Fowler's speculation that carbon monoxide poisoning may have contributed to George Floyd’s death was "simply wrong."
Dr. Fowler testified on Wednesday, April 14 that the fentanyl and methamphetamine found in Floyd’s system, and possibly carbon monoxide poisoning from a car exhaust, could plausibly have contributed to Floyd's death.
The controversy boiled over last week when prosecution attorney Jerry Blackwell asked Dr. Tobin if he had “formed an opinion, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty” about the cause of Mr Floyd’s death.
Dr. Tobin replied: “Yes, Mr Floyd died from a low level of oxygen and this caused damage to his brain that we see, and it also caused a PEA arrythmia that caused his heart to stop.”
Dr. Fowler, however, argued that his death could have “potentially” been caused by carbon monoxide poisoning, “or at least an effect from increased carbon monoxide in his bloodstream.”
Though during his testimony, Dr. Tobin highlighted the fact that Mr Floyd had an oxygen saturation of 98 per cent, which means that any intake of carbon monoxide would have been negligible.
Dr. Tobin went on to explain: "If haemoglobin is saturated at 98 per cent, it tells you all there was for everything else is two per cent, so the maximum amount of carbon monoxide would be two per cent."
Mr Blackwell replied: "So in other words, as to the statement that his [Floyd's] carboxyhaemoglobin could have increased by 10 to 18 per cent, in your view, that's not possible?"
"It's simply wrong," Dr. Tobin replied, adding that Floyd's level was just under two per cent, which is within the "normal" range.
Dr. Tobin, a pulmonary and critical care physician and professor working at Loyola University Medical Center in Illinois, attended University College Dublin and completed his residency with Trinity College Hospitals in Ireland.
The defence in the landmark trial rested its case on Thursday, April 15, shortly before Dr. Tobin was recalled.
Derek Chauvin invoked his fifth amendment right to not testify.
The court is due to begin hearing closing arguments on Monday, April 19, after which, the jury will commence deliberations.
If convicted on the primary charge of second-degree murder, which entails culpability for murder without intent, Derek Chauvin could face up to forty years in prison.