Posted by Curt on 6 August, 2021 at 9:07 am. 12 comments already!


By John Dale Dunn, MD, JD

On July 29, District Court Judge Peter Cahill, the presiding judge in the trials of the four Minneapolis police officers indicted for the death of George Floyd, ordered the release of an exhibit memorandum that reveals a miscarriage of justice and criminal coercion of a witness.
Dr. Roger Mitchell, the former deputy mayor and medical examiner of the District of Columbia and now the Chief of Pathology at Howard University Medical School, a traditional Black medical school, boldly intimidated and coerced Hennepin County Medical Examiner Dr. Andrew Baker into changing critical conclusory language in his autopsy report on the death of George Floyd.
The exhibit is a written summary of Mitchell’s commentary and some admissions of coercion that he volunteered to Minnesota Attorney General Office prosecutors in November 2020.  Mitchell’s perfidious conduct is discussed in this excellent article by Jack Cashill.
Dr. Andrew Baker, an experienced and well-regarded Chief Medical Examiner for Hennepin County, conducted an autopsy on Mr. Floyd on May 26, 2020, the day after his death and reported later that day, “The autopsy revealed no physical evidence suggesting that Mr. Floyd died of asphyxiation or that excessive force was used in the restraint performed by the officers led by Officer Chauvin.
Three days later, on Friday, May 29, prosecutors elaborated on the cause of death in posting their initial complaint against Derek Chauvin. According to the complaint, “The full report of the [medical examiner] is pending but the [medical examiner] has made the following preliminary findings. The autopsy revealed no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation.”
The autopsy did show, however, that Floyd had severe heart disease, coronary artery disease, and an enlarged heart from high blood pressure. These conditions put Mr. Floyd at risk for sudden death from cardiac arrhythmia — abnormal ineffective lethal heartbeat.

Before you proceed, think about that: Baker’s initial clean impression, without corrupting pressures, was that Derek Chauvin and his fellow officers were in no way responsible for George Floyd’s death.
Without a diagnosis of asphyxia, the State could not prosecute the officers for murder.  That is why Dr. Roger Mitchell was so critical in this tale of intimidation — and why this exhibit memorandum is so important. It reveals a naked attempt by Roger Mitchell to bully Dr. Baker into a conclusion that would enable a second-degree murder prosecution of the police officers.
Don’t take my word for it. Here is how the Minnesota prosecutors summarized their meeting with Dr. Mitchell in the memorandum:

When the preliminary result came out via the criminal complaint, Mitchell found the statement was bizarre. Mitchell was reading and said this is not right. So Mitchell called Baker and said first of all Baker should fire his public information officer. Then Mitchell asked what happened, because Mitchell didn’t think it sounded like Baker’s words Baker said that he didn’t think the neck compression played a part and that he didn’t find petechiae. Mitchell said but you know you cannot have petechiae and still have asphyxia and can still have neck compression.

This phone call likely took place on Friday, May 29. Mitchell had a restless weekend as he drafted an op-ed for the Washington Post. His next step was pure intimidation:

Mitchell was expecting to send the op-ed to the Washington Post on Monday afternoon so Mitchell called Baker first to let him know that he was going to be critical of Baker’s findings. In this conversation, Mitchell said, you don’t want to be the medical examiner who tells everyone they didn’t see what they saw. You don’t want to be the smartest person in the room and be wrong.

The Cashill article cited above explains how Baker appears to have yielded to the pressure. In his second call to Baker, Mitchell insisted “neck compression has to be in the diagnosis,” and Baker ultimately added “neck compression.” Without that addition, Chauvin could not have been charged with murder.
Not being a physician, Cashill asked me to assess the Mitchell conduct and his review of Baker’s work. I answered Mr. Cashill’s questions because I can.  I am an attorney admitted to the bar in Nebraska, Louisiana and Texas by examination and I have a career-long interest in studying cause of death, especially sudden cause of death. I have been an emergency physician since 1974, an attorney since 1979 and have co-authored with a pathologist a chapter on forensics for a textbook published by the American College of Legal Medicine: Legal Medicine: Legal Dynamics of Medical Encounters (Mosby, 1988 and 1991) .
What follows is a bit long and technical. I am hoping that those involved with the defense of the 4 officers, close to the show trials will find my answers and commentary helpful.  My analysis of the Mitchell interview memorandum is in italics.

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