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Saturday, August 13, 2022

George Floyd’s clemency recommendation has been withdrawn by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles

It was determined that the recommendation for George Floyd’s posthumous pardon for a narcotics conviction in Houston in 2004 had “procedural flaws.” The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles cited “procedural errors” as the reason for the withdrawal.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Renae Eze, a spokeswoman for Gov. Greg Abbott, said the Board of Pardons and Paroles had withdrawn 25 clemency recommendations because they had procedural mistakes and were not in line with board standards, among other things.

Mr. Eze said that the board “would conduct a thorough investigation into and resolution of any procedural irregularities and problems relating to any outstanding applications in accordance with their regulations.” In light of the board’s decision to retract its recommendation about George Floyd, Governor Abbott did not have the chance to examine it.

According to a statement released on Thursday, Governor Abbott had given clemency to eight Texans as part of an annual practise of granting such applications, and that the decision to withdraw was a result of that.

Since Mr. Floyd’s death in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020, which was documented on camera and watched by millions, debates about policing have become more acrimonious and politicised, mobilising support for changes.

In a statement to The Dallas Morning News, Allison Mathis, a Harris County public defender who had petitioned for Mr. Floyd’s pardon, said the withdrawal “smacks of something fishy.” She said that she had not been alerted that there was anything wrong with the application she was working on.

Mr. Floyd was arrested in Houston, Texas, in February 2004, on suspicion of selling crack cocaine for $10 in a police sting operation. His subsequent guilty plea came after a case rested on the testimony of a narcotics officer who has subsequently been accused of fabricating evidence and making false statements in a number of other instances.

According to the state parole board, Mr. Floyd, a Black man who was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer last year, should be granted clemency. The decision was made in October and prompted global demonstrations against policing as well as a campaign to confront racism.

According to the board’s presiding officer, David G. Gutiérrez, in a letter to Mr. Abbott’s general counsel explaining the withdrawal, which was sent on Dec. 16, the panel had sent Mr. Abbott 67 clemency recommendations this year, which he described as a “unusually high number, not seen in nearly two decades.”

When the board issued several of its recommendations, Mr. Gutiérrez noted that the investigation indicated that “a number of inexplicable deviations from its own norms” were made by the board, according to his findings.

When Mr. Floyd was killed, Mr. Abbott expressed compassion for his family and spoke at a memorial ceremony in Houston, where he vowed changes to “avoid police brutality like this from occurring in the future in Texas.” Mr. Floyd was shot and killed by a police officer on April 16, 2018. Mr. Floyd’s casket was pictured with him as he paid his respects.

Instead, large demonstrations and an increase in crime last year sparked a reaction, undermining what had seemed to be bipartisan support for substantial police reforms for a short period of time.

He supported legislation that would strip funding from communities that divert funds away from their police departments, as well as additional protester penalties that would mandate prison time for individuals who obstruct emergency vehicles. In addition, Mr. Abbott travelled to Houston to sign legislation requiring bail for anyone accused of committing a serious felony.

There were a number of bills that did not make it to Mr. Abbott’s desk, including one that would have required more evidence than just the word of an undercover officer or an informant in order to be found guilty — a measure intended to prevent cases like Mr. Floyd’s from occurring in the first place. It was approved by the Texas House of Representatives, but failed to advance in the Senate.

More than 150 persons have been named by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office as having been convicted in instances where the sole witness was a narcotics officer, Gerald M. Goines, or in situations in which Mr. Goines obtained a search warrant. Mr. Floyd was one of those people.

Mr. Goines, who has since retired from the Houston Police Department, is facing murder charges in connection with the police killing of a couple in their Houston home in 2019. Prosecutors claim Mr. Goines made false statements on a search warrant, which resulted in the killing of the couple by police.

Mr. Floyd’s pardon application received support from Kim Ogg, the district attorney for Harris County, whose office has been revisiting convictions in Mr. Goines’s cases. Mrs. Ogg, a Democrat, was elected to a second term in office last year, beating a challenger who had received support from the police union.

Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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