(NEW YORK) — A request to grant George Floyd a full posthumous pardon is headed to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk after a public defender alleged Floyd was framed in a 2004 drug bust by a former Houston police detective now indicted on murder charges.
In a letter sent Monday to Floyd’s one-time public defender Allison Mathis, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles wrote it has “completed their consideration of your client’s application requesting a Full Pardon and have voted to recommend clemency.”
The board forwarded its recommendation to Abbott for final disposition. Abbott has not said whether he will grant the pardon.
Mathis filed the request in April, writing in the petition that a “pardon is being sought because it is just and right to clear a conviction that is not supported by evidence.”
Floyd was arrested on Feb. 5, 2004, by then-Houston undercover narcotics detective Gerald Goines, who alleged Floyd provided a second suspect .03 grams of crack cocaine to sell, according to the petition. The man Floyd allegedly gave the drugs to turned out to be a police informant who sold the drugs to Goines as part of a sting operation and was not arrested or identified, according to the petition.
Floyd eventually pleaded guilty to a drug charge and was sentenced to 10 months in state jail, authorities said.
In August 2019, Goines was charged with two counts of murder related to a botched narcotics raid at a home in southeast Houston. Goines’ police colleague, Steven Bryant, pleaded guilty in June to federal charges of falsifying records and interfering with a government investigation in an attempt to help Goines cover up an illegally obtained “no-knock” warrant on the Houston home of Rhogena Nicholas and her husband, Dennis Tuttle.
During the Jan. 28, 2019, raid, a shootout erupted in which Nicholas, Tuttle and their dog were killed and four police officers, including Goines, were shot and wounded.
In announcing the indictments of Goines and Bryant, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg alleged that Goines made “numerous false statements” in the affidavit presented to the judge who signed the ‘no-knock” warrant.
The scandal prompted the Harris County District Attorney to review at least 1,400 criminal cases tied to Goines.
Ogg released a statement on Monday supporting the Board of Pardons and Paroles’ recommendation to grant Floyd clemency.
“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 for a 2004 conviction,” Ogg’s statement reads.
Mathis also praised the board’s decision.
“A man was set up by a corrupt police officer intent on securing arrests rather than pursuing justice,” Mathis said in a statement. “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.”
Ben Crump, an attorney for the Floyd family, urged Abbott to grant the full pardon.
“This drug charge, which led to George Floyd’s conviction based on false evidence, helped to unravel his life,” Crump said in a statement. “Similarly, tens of thousands of Black lives are ruined by a criminal justice system that uses the war on drugs to target Black people, force them into felony pleas, incarcerate them, take away their voting rights, and destroy their families.”
Floyd died on May 25, 2020, as the result of injuries suffered when police in Minneapolis attempted to arrest him on suspicion of using a phony $20 bill to buy cigarettes. Former police officer Derek Chauvin, who pressed his knee into the back of Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes as the 46-year-old Black man lost consciousness after repeatedly claiming of not being able to breathe, was convicted in April of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Chauvin was sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison. Three other police officers charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter are scheduled to go on trial next year.
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