AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A Texas board unanimously backed a posthumous pardon for George Floyd over the 2004 drug arrest in Houston, saying Thursday that “procedural errors” would force Republicans to leave the decision. Months later his recommendation was found. Government Greg Abbott.
The unusual reversal was announced by Abbott’s office two days before Christmas, around the time he would normally hold his annual pardon.
The withdrawn support was met with outrage from a public protester who submitted a pardon application for Floyd, who spent most of his life in Houston under the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer before his death in 2020. Alison Mathis, an attorney in Houston, accused the two-time governor of playing politics ahead of Texas’ March GOP primary elections because he faced challengers from afar.
Floyd’s name was withdrawn along with two dozen other clemency recommendations submitted by the Texas Board of Pardon and Parole. In a letter dated December 16, but not yet publicly issued, the board told Abbott that it had identified an “unexplained departure” from its process of issuing pardons and that of the 67 clemency recommendations sent to Abbott. More than a third needed to be reconsidered. Including a year for Floyd.
RELATED VIDEO: Questions circulated whether the government would pardon Abbott George Floyd?
In October, the board unanimously recommended that Floyd become the second person in Texas to receive a posthumous pardon from a governor since 2010.
“As a result of the withdrawal of the recommendation relating to George Floyd, Governor Abbott did not have the opportunity to consider it,” Abbott’s spokeswoman, René Eise, said in a statement.
Mathis called the last-minute reversal a “ridiculous joke”.
“It really puts pressure on credibility for them to say now that this is out of compliance, because the board has already voted on it,” she said.
Floyd grew up and was laid to rest in Houston. In June, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison for the murder of Floyd, which sparked national debate about race and policing in America.
Pardon restores the rights of the guilty and pardons them in the eyes of the law. But in Floyd’s case, his family and supporters said a posthumous pardon in Texas would show a commitment to accountability.
In February 2004, Floyd was arrested in a police sting in Houston for selling $10 worth of crack, and later pleaded guilty to drug charges and served 10 months in prison. But the global spotlight on Floyd’s death in police custody after 16 years is not why prosecutors revisited his Houston case. Instead, it was prompted by a deadly Houston drug raid in 2019 that involved the same officer who arrested Floyd.
Prosecutors say Officer Gerald Goins lied to obtain a search warrant for the raid that killed a husband and wife. Goins, who is no longer in the Houston Forces and faces murder charges, has denied wrongdoing. Concerns about his casework have led to more than 160 drug convictions being dismissed by prosecutors over the years.
David Gutierrez, chairman of the Texas parole board, said in a letter to Abbott that he ordered the review after the board recommended more clemency recommendations this year than at any point in two decades. He did not specify how Floyd’s recommendation underpinned normal procedures, instead only pointing out broadly several sets of rules that Gutierrez said the board did not follow.
A number listed for Gutierrez did not respond Thursday.
For months, Abbott gave no indication whether he would grant a clemency in months as the parole board laid the recommendation on its desk. The long silence raised questions by Mathis and others whether political calculations were going on in Abbott’s decision. His office has not responded to those allegations.
Abbott attended Floyd’s memorial service in Houston last year, where he met with family and pitched the idea of a “George Floyd Act” that would target police brutality. But when the Texas legislature convened months later, Abbott was silent on police reforms pushed by Democrats and prioritized police funding.
Watch the AP’s full coverage of George Floyd’s death here: https://apnews.com/hub/death-of-george-floyd