The Texas State Board of Pardons and Paroles is recommending a full posthumous pardon for George Floyd in his 2004 drug conviction.
Floyd became the face of a movement challenging police brutality and racial bias in the criminal justice system after his May 25, 2020, death, when a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for over nine minutes during an arrest over a phony $20 bill.
The Texas board voted 7-0 to recommend the pardon for Floyd, who grew up in Houston; the recommendation will be passed on to GOP Gov. Greg Abbott for a final decision.
On Tuesday, lawyer Ben Crump, who represents the Floyd family, called on Abbott to "act swiftly" to approve the pardon but also to enact reforms to prevent what happened to Floyd from happening to other people of color, The Washington Post reported.
"This drug charge, which led to George Floyd’s conviction based on false evidence, helped to unravel his life," Crump said in a statement. "Similarly, tens of thousands of Black lives are ruined by a criminal justice system that uses the war on drugs to target Black people, force them into felony pleas, incarcerate them, take away their voting rights, and destroy their families."
Floyd's drug conviction was related to a February 2004 case when a police officer accused him of selling $10 worth of crack cocaine in a sting operation at a time he lived in Texas. Floyd pleaded guilty to a drug charge and was sentenced to 10 months in a state jail.
Allison Mathis, an attorney with the Harris County Public Defender’s Office who submitted the pardon request in April, said she was pleased with the board’s decision.
"A man was set up by a corrupt police officer intent on securing arrests rather than pursuing justice. No matter what your political affiliation is, no matter who that man was in his life or in his death, that is not something we should stand for in the United States or in Texas," Mathis said.
In the days after Floyd’s death, Abbott called his death "the most horrific tragedy I’ve ever personally observed" and suggested he would lead efforts to enact reforms in a state that has grappled with several high-profile police killings, the Post reported.
In June, a judge sentenced former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin to 22-1/2 years in prison for Floyd's murder.
"We lament the loss of former Houstonian George Floyd and hope that his family finds comfort in Monday’s decision by the Texas State Board of Pardons and Paroles to recommend clemency for a 2004 conviction," Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said in a statement.
She also urged Abbott to follow the board’s recommendation and grant clemency.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
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