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Texas Board Reverses Course On George Floyd Pardon Over ‘Procedural Errors’

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TOPSHOT - People gather at the unveiling of artist Kenny Altidor's memorial portrait of George Floyd - who died 25 May in Minneapolis with police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes - painted on a storefront sidewall of CTown Supermarket on July 13, 2020 in Brooklyn, New York.
Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

A Texas board that unanimously supported a posthumous pardon for George Floyd over a 2004 drug arrest has reversed its decision, according to a letter made public by Texas Governor Greg Abbott Thursday.

The Texas Board of Pardon and Paroles voted unanimously in October to request that Abbott pardon Floyd over a 2004 drug charge over concerns about the police officer involved in Floyd’s arrest. The board backtracked in a December 16 letter to Abbott citing “procedural errors” made in the board’s suggestion. The board’s presiding officer, David Gutierrez, wrote:

During 2021, the Texas Board of Pardon and Paroles has sent Governor Abbott a total of 67 clemency recommendations. This unusually high number, not seen in almost two decades, is more than twice the average number of recommendations Governor Abbott has received in any year since taking office. As the Presiding Officer of the Board, I instructed the staff to carefully examine its practices and procedures in an effort to explain this aberration.

The results of the examination has revealed that the Board made a number of unexplained departures from its own rules in issuing many of its 2021 recommendations, e.g., Board Rule sections 143.2, 143.6, 143.10. I understand the importance of following the Board’s rules, and will ensure that the board takes greater care to do so in 2022 and beyond. If it is determined that any of those rules need to be improved, they will be revised and amended rather than failing to comply.

To ensure the 2021 applicants are not prejudiced by the Board’s procedural errors, the Board respectfully requests Governor Abbott allow the Board to withdraw and reconsider its clemency recommendations for the following individuals:

The board went on to name 25 people improperly nominated for clemency or a pardon to Abbott. Floyd’s name is the sixth on the list.

A jury ruled in June that former police officer Derek Chauvin murdered Floyd while attempting to arrest him last year. Police moved to take Floyd into custody for allegedly using counterfeit currency at a convenience store. An autopsy after Floyd’s death found potentially fatal levels of fentanyl in his system at the time of his death.

Floyd had a lengthy history of run-ins with police, being charged at least 19 times throughout his life. In 2009, Floyd pleaded guilty to armed robbery after he and several other men robbed a home while the family was inside. During the robbery, Floyd held a woman at gunpoint while his accomplices ransacked the house, according to police.

The board’s recommendation came after one of the arresting officers in Floyd’s 2004 drug charge was accused of falsifying evidence for a raid warrant in 2019. As NBC News reported:

In February 2004, Floyd was arrested in Houston for selling $10 worth of crack in a police sting, and later pleaded guilty to a drug charge and served 10 months in prison. But the global spotlight on the death of Floyd in police custody 16 years later is not why prosecutors revisited his Houston case. Instead, it was prompted by a deadly Houston drug raid in 2019 that involved the same officer who arrested Floyd.

Prosecutors say that officer, Gerald Goines, lied to obtain the search warrant for the raid that killed a husband and wife. Goines, who is no longer on the Houston force and faces murder charges, has denied wrongdoing. More than 160 drug convictions tied to him over the years have since been dismissed by prosecutors due to concerns about his casework.

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