Fate of George Floyd pardon request now with Texas governor

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FILE – In this Tuesday, April 20, 2021, file photo, Laynette Jacob takes a photo in front of a George Floyd mural with her friends near the intersection of Elgin and Ennis as she joins others as they react after learning of the guilty verdict on all counts in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd, in Houston. In an announcement Monday, Oct. 4, 2021, a Texas agency has approved a request that Floyd be granted a posthumous pardon for a 2004 drug arrest made by a now indicted ex-Houston police officer whose case history is under scrutiny following a deadly drug raid. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP, File)

HOUSTON (AP) — A Texas agency on Monday approved a request that George Floydbe granted a posthumous pardon for a 2004 drug arrest made by a now-indicted ex-Houston police officer whose case history is under scrutiny following a deadly drug raid.

The unanimous recommendation by the seven member Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles will now be forwarded to Gov. Greg Abbott, who will make the final decision.

It was not clear when Abbott would decide the fate of the request. A spokeswoman for Abbott did not immediately return an email seeking comment.

Allison Mathis, an attorney with the Harris County Public Defender’s Office who submitted the pardon request in April, said she was pleased by the board’s decision.

“A man was set up by a corrupt police officer intent on securing arrests rather than pursuing justice. No matter what your political affiliation is, no matter who that man was in his life or in his death, that is not something we should stand for in the United States or in Texas,” Mathis said.

The board’s recommendation was first made public on Monday by a reporter with The Marshall Project.

The May 2020 killing of Floyd, who was Black, by a white Minneapolis police officer prompted worldwide protests against racial injustice. The officer, Derek Chauvin, was sentenced in June to 22 1/2 years in prison for Floyd’s murder.

Floyd, who grew up in Houston, was arrested in February 2004 by Officer Gerald Goines and accused of selling $10 worth of crack in a police sting. Floyd later pleaded guilty to a drug charge and was sentenced to 10 months in a state jail.

Goines’ casework has been under scrutiny following a deadly 2019 drug raid he led that resulted in the deaths of Dennis Tuttle, 59, and his wife, Rhogena Nicholas, 58. Goines, who is no longer on the Houston force, is facing two counts of felony murder, as well as other charges in state and federal court over the raid.

Prosecutors allege Goines, 57, lied to obtain the warrant to search the couple’s home.

More than 160 drug convictions tied to Goines have since been dismissed by prosecutors, and a dozen current and former officers, including Goines, tied to the narcotics unit that conducted the drug raid have been indicted.

In May, the top leaders in Harris County, where Houston is located, unanimously approved a resolution to support the pardon request for Floyd.

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg urged Abbott to grant the posthumous pardon.

“We lament the loss of former Houstonian George Floyd and hope that his family finds comfort in Monday’s decision by the Texas State Board of Pardons and Paroles to recommend clemency,” said Ogg, who submitted a letter to the board supporting the pardon request.

During a public visitation in Houston in June 2020 before Floyd’s funeral, Abbott expressed a commitment to pursuing policing reforms. But a sweeping reform bill named for Floyd failed to gain traction in the regular Texas legislative session earlier this year.

Since he took office in 2015, Abbott has granted just a handful of pardons each year.

Mathis said she was hopeful Abbott would grant this one.

“I also hope that he, and the Texas Legislature, will work more stridently toward reforming the integrity of the racist, classist criminal justice system in Texas,” Mathis said.

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Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter: https://twitter.com/juanlozano70

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