Wednesday, October 27, 2021

George Floyd’s fate now requests Texas governor’s pardon

HOUSTON (AP) — A Texas agency approved a request Monday that George Floyd be given a posthumous pardon for a drug arrest made in 2004 by an ex-Houston police officer whose case history stemmed from a deadly drug raid. The latter is under investigation.

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

It was unclear when Abbott would decide the fate of the request. A spokesman 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 is pleased with the board’s decision.

“A man was set up by a corrupt police officer with the intention of securing arrest rather than being chased for justice. No matter what your political affiliation, no matter who that person was in his life or in his death, that’s not something we should be standing on in the United States or Texas,” Mathis said.

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

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

Floyd, who grew up in Houston, was arrested in February 2004 by Officer Gerald Goins and charged with selling $10 worth of cracks in a police sting. Floyd later pleaded guilty to drug charges and was sentenced to 10 months in state prison.

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Goins’ casework has come under scrutiny after a deadly 2019 drug raid that resulted in the deaths of Denise Tuttle, 59, and his wife, Rogna Nichols, 58. Goins, who is no longer in the Houston Forces, is facing two counts. felony murder, as well as other charges in state and federal court over the raid.

Prosecutors allege that 57-year-old Goins lied to obtain warrants to search the couple’s home.

More than 160 drug convictions involving Goins have been dismissed by prosecutors, and a dozen current and former officers, including Goins, have been linked to a narcotics unit conducting drug raids.

In May, top leaders in Harris County, where Houston is located, unanimously approved a motion to support a pardon request for Floyd.
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg urged Abbott to grant a posthumous clemency.

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

During a public visit in Houston in June 2020 ahead of Floyd’s funeral, Abbott expressed his commitment to advancing police reforms. But a sweeping reform bill in Floyd’s name failed to gain traction in the regular Texas legislative session earlier this year.

Since taking office in 2015, Abbott has given only a handful of clemency each year.

Mathis said he hopes Abbott will grant it.

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

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