Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has a history of giving out pardons around Christmas, typically for low-level offenses, but this year a particular name is sitting on his desk, George Floyd.
The governor has not indicated if he will pardon Floyd for his 2004 drug arrest in Houston. However, the officer who made the arrest is no longer trusted by prosecutors in the state. The Texas Parole Board, which is full of appointees selected by Abbott, has unanimously recommended a pardon of Floyd earlier this year.
The situation may be tough for the governor who is facing reelection next year and has several primary challengers, including former Gov. Rick Perry.
Pardons restore the rights of the convicted and forgives them in the eyes of the law. If he grants the pardon for Floyd it will be only the second posthumous in state history. The only person to receive one currently is Tim Cole, who was convicted of a 1986 rape.
According to Texas Monthly, another man confessed to the rape nine years later but Cole died in prison in 1999. He was cleared by DNA evidence in 2008, and Perry granted the pardon in 2010.
“It doesn’t matter who you think George Floyd was, or what you think he stood for or didn’t stand for,” said Allison Mathis, a public defender in Houston who submitted Floyd’s pardon application, told the Guardian “What matters is he didn’t do this. It’s important for the governor to correct the record to show he didn’t do this.”
Floyd was arrested in February 2004 for selling $10 worth of crack in a police sting. Floyd pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 months in prison.
Floyd’s case was revisited after a 2019 drug raid that resulted in murder charges for former officer Donald Goines, who lied to obtain a search warrant that left a husband and wife dead. Since then, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg has dismissed 160 drug convictions tied to the officer.