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In a file photo, Kanye West, legally known as Ye, arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party on Feb. 9, 2020 in Beverly Hills California. (AP) In a file photo, Kanye West, legally known as Ye, arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party on Feb. 9, 2020 in Beverly Hills California. (AP)

In a file photo, Kanye West, legally known as Ye, arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party on Feb. 9, 2020 in Beverly Hills California. (AP)

Gabrielle Settles
By Gabrielle Settles October 18, 2022

Fact checking Ye, who denied that George Floyd died from a knee on the neck

If Your Time is short

  • George Floyd died from asphyxiation, from his neck being compressed by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s knee, according to witness testimonies and autopsy reports. 

  • The Drink Champs interview during which Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, made this claim was removed from YouTube, Apple Music and Spotify. However, clips from the interview are still circulating on social media. 

Soon after announcing he would acquire social media platform Parler and making antisemitic comments, Kanye West was back in the news — this time for claiming that George Floyd was not killed by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. 

West, who legally changed his name to Ye, sat down for an Oct. 16 interview on the podcast Drink Champs, where he brought up conservative commentator Candace Owens’ recent documentary about Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement. 

"They hit him with the fentanyl. If you look, the guy’s knee wasn’t even on his neck like that," West said. 

West’s comments received widespread backlash, and the interview was removed from Drink Champs’ website, YouTube, Apple Music and Spotify. The podcast’s co-host, rapper N.O.R.E., apologized for giving West a platform. Though the original podcast has been removed, clips from the interview continue to circulate online. 

We reached out to lawyers who previously represented West for comment, but received no response. 

There is overwhelming evidence to disprove West’s claim. While providing testimony during Chauvin’s criminal trial, prosecution witnesses said they watched police body cam footage of the incident and saw that Chauvin applied pressure continuously to Floyd’s neck or neck area. Two autopsy reports ruled that the cause of Floyd’s death was homicide by asphyxiation, or suffocation. Floyd was killed when Chauvin pinned his knee to Floyd’s neck for several minutes. 

Chauvin was convicted of three counts of unintentional second-degree murder, third degree murder and second degree manslaughter. 

Floyd did have fentanyl in his system at the time of his death, as West said. However, the Hennepin County, Minnesota, medical examiner ruled that the cause of death was homicide, because of "cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression." Experts in toxicology, cardiology and drug use stated death by overdose was unlikely or impossible.

The lawyer for Floyd’s family said Oct. 16 that the family would sue West for his comments. The mother of Floyd’s daughter also filed to sue West for $250 million for "harassment, misappropriation, defamation and infliction of emotional distress." Floyd’s brother is also considering a lawsuit.

West suggested that fentanyl, not Chauvin, killed Floyd. We rate that claim False. 

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Fact checking Ye, who denied that George Floyd died from a knee on the neck

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