The board had initially recommended the pardon to Gov. Greg Abbott in October 2021, but reversed its decision in December 2021, citing “procedural errors” in its recommendation and saying it needed to reconsider more than a third of a group of 67 clemency applications it had sent to the governor.
The board said on Sept. 15 in a letter to Allison Mathis, Floyd’s attorney, with the Harris County Public Defender’s Office in Houston, “The Members of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles (Board) have reconsidered their initial decision concerning your client’s application for a Full Pardon and/or Pardon for Innocence.
“After a full and careful review of the application and other information filed with the application, a majority of the Board decided not to recommend a Full Pardon and/or Pardon for Innocence on 09/14/2022,” the letter continues. “Your client is eligible to re-apply for a Full Pardon two years from the above date.”
The parole board didn’t share any specific reason for the denial.
Floyd died in Minnesota in May 2020 while in police custody at the city’s Third Police Precinct for a separate incident. He had been arrested on suspicion of using a counterfeit bill at a store. Minneapolis Police said at the time that officers were responding to a report of forgery when the suspect “physically resisted officers.” The statement said that Floyd died after “suffering medical distress.”
Mathis had asked the parole board for a posthumous pardon in April 2021, over a 2004 minor drug conviction Floyd received in Houston, Texas. Floyd had been arrested after he was discovered with less than half a gram of crack cocaine. Gerald Goines, the police officer who had arrested Floyd, alleged that Floyd had provided the cocaine to an unnamed person. Floyd later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 months in state prison.
Goines, who is no longer a police officer, is currently facing two counts of felony murder and other charges in state and federal court over a deadly 2019 drug raid that killed a couple in their late 50s—Dennis Tuttle and wife Rhogena Nicholas. Prosecutors alleged that he lied or fabricated information to obtain the warrant to search the couple’s home. Goine’s case history is now under scrutiny after prosecutors have since also accused him of having fabricated informants in other cases.
“Goines manufactured the existence of confidential informants to bolster his cases against innocent defendants,” Mathis wrote when first petitioning for Floyd’s clemency in April.
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said on Sept. 15: “We supported George Floyd’s pardon because we do not have confidence in the integrity of his conviction. We support clemency because it is appropriate.”
Goines continues to assert his innocence and his lawyer is fighting the charges. About 150 drug convictions tied to Goines have since been dismissed by prosecutors. Earlier in September, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ordered that a fifth conviction tied to Goines be overturned.
Officers Convicted Over Floyd’s Death
Four former officers have since been convicted over the death of Floyd in May 2020, which sparked nationwide protests against racism and police brutality.
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who had held his knee against on Floyd’s neck during the arrest for almost nine minutes, was convicted in April 2021 of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter charges in connection to Floyd’s death. He was sentenced to 22-and-a-half years in prison in June 2021 on the state convictions.
Chauvin later pleaded guilty in December 2021 to violating Floyd’s civil rights and came to a plea agreement for the federal charges. He was sentenced to 21 years in prison in July. The federal sentence is being served concurrently with the state sentence. Chauvin is incarcerated in federal prison.
Three other officers from the Minneapolis Police Department were present at Floyd’s arrest in May 2020: J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao. During the arrest, Kueng knelt on Floyd’s back, Lane restrained Floyd’s lower body, and Thao was standing nearby to work the crowd that had gathered near the scene.
The trio were convicted by a jury in federal court on Feb. 24 of violating Floyd’s civil rights by not coming to his aid. Thao and Lane were also convicted of failing to intervene with Chauvin. Lane was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison and to two years of supervised release. Thao was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison, and Kueng was sentenced to three years in prison.
Separately, Lane reached a plea agreement for state charges he faced in relation to Floyd’s death. He pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter, and prosecutors dropped one count of aiding and abetting second-degree unintentional murder. His sentencing in state court is set for Sept. 21.
Meanwhile, court proceedings for Kueng and Thao related to their state charges have been delayed until Jan. 5, 2023. They are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death. The two officers told a judge in August they had rejected plea deals that would have given them prison sentences of three years. The deals would have meant that prosecutors would drop the charge of aiding and abetting murder, and the state sentence would be served concurrently with the federal sentences. The two will now face trial starting in October.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.