Texas Governor Greg Abbott Silent On Posthumous Pardon for George Floyd Over 2004 Arrest

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has not indicated yet whether he plans to grant George Floyd a posthumous pardon for a 2004 drug arrest in Houston, despite a unanimous recommendation from the state's parole board in October.

Floyd lived most of his life in Houston before moving to Minnesota, where his eventual death during an encounter with Minneapolis police in May 2020 sparked mass protests against racial injustice.

Floyd was arrested in February 2004 in Houston for selling $10 of crack in a police sting operation. He spent 10 months behind bars after pleading guilty to a drug charge.

However, the work of Gerald Goines, the former police officer tied to Floyd's drug arrest and conviction, has been scrutinized ever since a deadly drug raid in 2019 for which prosecutors say Goines lied to obtain a search warrant.

Since then, prosecutors have been reviewing cases linked to Goines, and the office of Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg has dismissed over 160 drug convictions.

Granting pardons for largely minor crimes that took place years or decades ago has been a holiday tradition for the Texas governor. Though a posthumous pardon such as the one recommended for Floyd would largely be a symbolic measure, pardons can forgive an individual under the law and restore the rights of the convicted.

The family and supporters of Floyd are backing calls for the posthumous pardon, saying that would demonstrate a dedication to accountability in Texas.

"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 Houston public defender. "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."

Abbott Mum on Floyd Pardon
Political observers are watching whether Texas Gov. Greg Abbott will posthumously pardon George Floyd for a 2004 arrest before the end of the year. Abbott speaks during a news conference along the Rio Grande, Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021, in Del Rio, Texas. Julio Cortez/AP Photo

A spokeswoman for Abbott did not respond to requests for comment.

Goines has pleaded not guilty to murder charges linked to the 2019 drug raid and his attorneys accuse Ogg of launching the review for political gain.

Abbott has several primary challengers from the far right, and his ongoing silence about a potential pardon for Floyd has raised questions by Mathis and others over whether political calculations are at play. His office has not responded to those charges.

Abbott attended Floyd's memorial service last year in Houston, where he met with the family and floated the idea of a "George Floyd Act" that would take aim at police brutality.

However, Abbott never publicly supported such a measure months later when lawmakers returned to the Capitol, where Republicans instead made police funding a priority.

State Sen. Royce West, a Democrat who carried the "George Floyd Act" in the Senate, said he understands the politics if Abbott was waiting until after the GOP primary elections in March. But he said the governor should act on the recommendation.

"As he's always said, he is a law and order governor," West said. "And this would be following the law."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Potential Floyd Pardon
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has not indicated yet whether he plans to grant George Floyd a posthumous pardon for a 2004 drug arrest in Houston, despite a unanimous recommendation from the state's parole board in October. A button that reads "I can't breathe," adorns the jacket of a mourner before the funeral for George Floyd on Tuesday, June 9, 2020, in Houston. Godofredo A. Vásquez/Houston Chronicle via AP