Texas denies George Floyd a posthumous pardon

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles has changed its mind and rejected a plea to offer Floyd a full pardon for a 2004 drug-related conviction.

It appears that George Floyd’s criminal record will continue to include a nearly 20-year-old drug charge — at least for now — because the Texas parole board has rejected a request to grant him a posthumous pardon.

According to The Houston Chronicle, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles has changed its mind about giving Floyd a posthumous pardon for a minor drug charge in 2004, which came following an arrest made by now-indicted former Houston police officer Gerald Goines.

Floyd — who was killed in Minneapolis in May 2020 when ex-officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes — spent most of his life in Houston and had multiple run-ins with law enforcement, including with Goines. According to court documents, Goines arrested Floyd for having less than 0.5 grams of crack cocaine and for supplying drugs to an unidentified “second suspect,” who was not detained.

George Floyd
A drug-related conviction on George Floyd’s criminal record will remain in place, at least for now, because the Texas parole board has denied a request to grant him a full pardon. (Photo: Courtesy of Floyd family)

In a letter to attorney Allison Mathis, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles said its members had “reconsidered their previous decision,” instead ruling against recommending Floyd’s full pardon. Mathis, a former public defender, was still assisting in the appeals process pro bono.

“This was a chance for Texas to do a small, good thing: to take an apolitical stance that no matter who a person is, their rights need to be respected and an accurate record of their life is important,” said Mathis, according to The Chronicle. 

The pardon for Floyd was rejected by a unanimous vote, but the letter did not include any additional information behind the change in the board’s decision. Mathis, who can reapply for a pardon in two years, said she was unsure what happened that made the board change its mind.

“Last year, the board unanimously recommended that Mr. Floyd be granted a pardon, acknowledging that what happened to him was wrong,” Mathis maintained, according to The Chronicle. “I have given no other facts or evidence for the board to consider, and it is unclear to me what happened to completely reverse their decision.”

In an application for a pardon submitted on Floyd’s behalf, Mathis said that due to fabricated evidence, Floyd was unable to contest his drug charge, and his prior criminal history had him up against a minimum 25-year sentence. Floyd was given a 10-month jail sentence after entering a guilty plea.

Following a failed narcotics raid in 2019, Goines was charged with murder, as well as a long list of other offenses, including accusations that he was repeatedly lying. He has not yet been tried, but five convictions based on his testimony have been overturned.

According to Mathis, Goines had also lied about a confidential informant when he arrested Floyd, but no one thought to doubt him because he was a seasoned police officer whose defendant was a Black man with a previous conviction.

Floyd’s pardon was scheduled to be decided by Texas Governor Greg Abbott after the unanimous pardon proposal from the parole board in October 2021. The board informed Abbott in December that it needed more time to think about some of the 67 recommendations. Because the board had withdrawn its recommendation, Abbott said he hadn’t taken Floyd’s situation into account.

Last year, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office backed the request for Floyd to be granted clemency, which continued even after the board’s rejection.

“We supported George Floyd’s pardon because we do not have confidence in the integrity of his conviction,” District Attorney Kim Ogg said Thursday in a statement, according to The Chronicle. “We support clemency because it is appropriate.”

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