In 2004, George Floyd was one of scores of people arrested on the word of a Houston narcotics officer, Gerald Goines, who said he had watched Floyd hand over a “dime rock” of crack cocaine during an undercover drug buy.

But after a botched drug raid ended with the death of a couple in their Houston home in 2019, Goines, who is now retired, became the center of a massive policing scandal that resulted in felony charges against nine officers.

Prosecutors say Goines fabricated evidence to conduct the raid, including by inventing an informant, and have charged him with two counts of felony murder. He also faces federal civil rights charges, but has denied the allegations.

Now the state parole board has recommended a posthumous pardon in the Houston case for Floyd, whose killing during an unrelated arrest in Minneapolis in 2020 touched off a national debate over race and policing.

The pardon was requested by the Harris County Public Defender’s Office and endorsed by the district attorney, Kim Ogg.

Floyd and Goines “have come into the spotlight on opposite sides of the same issue: the vast unfairness of the United States’ criminal justice system, and specifically, the grotesque abuses of power by police officers,” Allison Mathis, a public defender, wrote in the 241-page pardon application.


Granting the pardon, she said, would show that Texas was interested in “fundamental fairness” and increasing accountability for police officers “who break our trust and their oaths.”

The board’s vote for a pardon on Monday was unanimous, but a final decision will be made by Gov. Greg Abbott. The governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Floyd initially fought the charges, then accepted a plea deal in the case and was sentenced to serve 10 months. Had he gone to trial, the pardon application said, he could have been branded a habitual offender and faced a minimum sentence of 25 years.

Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci, civil rights lawyers who represent Floyd family members, called upon the governor to grant the pardon, but added that passing criminal justice reform measures was even more important. “Like the U.S. Senate, the Texas Legislature left undone the hard but necessary work of protecting residents from unacceptable police violence,” they wrote in a statement.

The raid occurred in January 2019, when officers burst into the home of a Navy veteran, Dennis Tuttle, and his wife, Rhogena Nicholas, working on information that drugs had been purchased there by Goines and others. A shootout ensued that left Tuttle and Nicholas dead and five officers wounded. Afterward, prosecutors said it appeared that Goines had lied about the drug purchases.

The district attorney’s office identified more than 150 people, including Floyd, who were convicted in cases where Goines was the sole witness or submitted a search warrant affidavit, said Joshua Reiss, the chief of the district attorney’s post-conviction writs division. He said his office attempted to notify all of them so they could petition to have their convictions vacated.


Floyd probably never received his letter, which was sent to a Houston address after he had moved to Minneapolis.

Last year a pair of brothers, Steven and Otis Mallet Jr., were exonerated on the grounds that Goines had falsified evidence against them in an unrelated case. The pattern established by that case and the botched raid, Reiss said, means that other defendants who want relief will not be required to prove that Goines lied, only that their conviction rested on evidence he provided.

Many of the defendants have been difficult to find, Mathis, the public defender, said. She filed the pardon application partly in hopes that the publicity would help reach more of them.

While most of the cases involved low-level drug offenses with relatively short sentences, she said, the prior convictions could make punishment harsher if the person was arrested again.

Nicole DeBorde, a lawyer for Goines, said he had pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. She said that the prosecutors’ move to dismiss convictions in his previous cases was a way of bolstering the criminal case against him in the drug raid.

“There’s no new evidence of any kind to indicate that there’s any misconduct whatsoever or any problem with any of those previous arrests,” she said.

Goines’ former partner, Steven Bryant, pleaded guilty to falsifying records and faces up to 20 years in prison.

According to a report in Texas Monthly, Texas has granted a posthumous pardon only once, in a rape case where the defendant was cleared by DNA evidence.