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Two autopsy reports ruled that George Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020, was a homicide by asphyxiation, or suffocation. Floyd’s heart stopped when former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin restrained him for several minutes with a knee on his neck. Chauvin was convicted on all three counts of killing Floyd.
A medical examiner found high levels of fentanyl in his system, but experts in toxicology, cardiology and drug use stated death by overdose was unlikely or impossible.
Details surrounding Floyd’s past criminal history have been fabricated or exaggerated since his death. Floyd was involved in a 2007 aggravated robbery, but he was not found to have beaten or held a pregnant woman at gunpoint.
On June 16, 2021, the city of Newark, N.J., unveiled a statue of George Floyd sitting on a park bench and resting with his arm outstretched. The 700-pound bronze sculpture, erected in front of city hall, was gifted to the city by artist Stanley Watts.
A Facebook post on July 2, 2021, criticized the tribute, stating that Floyd died "because he had a system full of fentanyl and meth," rather than police brutality. It also stated that he beat women, and "held guns to their pregnant bellies," a claim which was sparked by misinformation regarding Floyd’s criminal background.
The post, which called the statue "St. George of Fentanyl," also said that Floyd resisted police when he died.
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
PolitiFact has debunked several claims that Floyd died due to a drug overdose. Floyd was killed on May 25, 2020, when former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pinned his knee to Floyd’s neck for several minutes.
The Hennepin County chief medical examiner, Andew Baker, ruled that the cause of Floyd’s death was homicide, due to "cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression," meaning that Floyd’s heart stopped as Chauvin restrained him. Another independent autopsy, ordered by Floyd’s family, also ruled the death a homicide by asphyxiation, or suffocation.
The medical examiner found high levels of fentanyl in his system. But Baker and other experts in toxicology, cardiology and drug use stated that death by overdose was unlikely or impossible. Chauvin was convicted of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
The portion of the claim stating that Floyd beat and held pregnant women at gunpoint is based on misinformation about his criminal history. Snopes, the Houston Chronicle and other news sources published background pieces that provided context on Floyd’s childhood and adult life, which included several arrests in the late 1990s and early 2000s in Texas.
The Associated Press detailed that in 2007, Floyd was involved in an aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon, in which he and five other suspects forced their way into a woman’s apartment. Floyd was identified as the suspect that pushed a pistol against the abdomen of the woman, who was identified in other reports as Aracely Henriquez. He pleaded guilty to the crime in 2009 and served five years in prison before his release in 2013.
Following Floyd’s death, an Instagram post made claims regarding the incident, stating that Henriquez was pregnant at the time of the robbery and that Floyd beat her and threatened to kill her baby. The post used a photo of a battered woman, claiming it was Henriquez. PolitiFact reported that the Instagram post fabricated claims about the robbery. The photo is not of Henriquez but Andrea Sicignano, an American student who was assaulted and raped in Madrid in 2018.
There is no evidence that Henriquez was pregnant at the time of the robbery, according to court documents. The documents further state that after Floyd put the gun to her abdomen, he went on to search the house while another suspect guarded her. It was this suspect that beat Henriquez, not Floyd.
A Facebook post claimed that Floyd was a man who resisted police when he died, and that his death was due to an overdose of drugs. The post also claimed that he physically abused pregnant women and held them at gunpoint.
Floyd was killed when former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pinned his knee to Floyd’s neck for several minutes. Two autopsy reports ruled the cause of death as a homicide, not a drug overdose.
The post exaggerates details surrounding Floyd’s criminal activity. In 2007, Floyd was involved with a group of other men in an aggravated robbery, in which he was identified as a suspect that held a gun to a woman’s abdomen. However, court records do not show that she was pregnant at the time, and that another suspect injured the woman, not Floyd. Floyd pleaded guilty to the case and served five years in prison.
We rate this claim False.
Facebook post, July 2, 2021
PolitiFact, Two autopsies found George Floyd’s death was a homicide, Sept. 25, 2020
PolitiFact, No, autopsy doesn’t say George Floyd died of overdose, March 30, 2021
Snopes, Background Check: Investigating George Floyd’s Criminal Record, June 12, 2020
The Houston Chronicle, George Floyd: ‘I’m gonna change the world,’ June 6, 2020
Associated Press, For George Floyd, a complicated life and a notorious death, June 10, 2020
The Washington Post, A knee on his neck, Oct. 26, 2020
PolitiFact, No, this photo doesn’t show a woman George Floyd assaulted, June 16, 2020
FactCheck.org, published court document, accessed July 7, 2021
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