There is never a wrong time to do the right thing.
In the spring of 1985, a string of aggravated sexual assaults occurred on and near the campus of Texas Tech University in Lubbock. Timothy Cole, a student at Texas Tech, was arrested and labeled the “Tech Rapist.”
Cole, an army veteran, steadfastly denied the allegations made against him. However, he would later be tried and convicted for the aggravated sexual assault of a fellow Tech student whom he did not know. Cole would later suffer a massive heart attack, brought on by his asthma, and die in a Texas prison, having served 13 years and continuously professing his innocence.
In 2008, the historic news came that, through DNA testing, Cole had been found innocent of the crime for which he was convicted. The test also showed that a man who was serving time in another Texas prison for two other 1985 rapes in Lubbock was guilty of the crime for which Cole was convicted.
Cole, my brother, became the first person in Texas and the nation to have died in prison and later to be proven factually innocent through DNA testing. In 2010, he received the first posthumous pardon ever issued by the state of Texas. The historic pardon was made possible by an opinion issued by the attorney general at the time, Greg Abbott.
Today, as governor, Abbott has the sole power to grant another posthumous pardon, yet he fails to answer this plea for justice. For nearly two months, Abbott has refused to act upon a petition for an individual whom the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, composed of Abbott appointees, has unanimously recommended a full pardon.
The pardon is for George Floyd — yes, that George Floyd.
Floyd was convicted of a crime that he did not commit in 2004 in Harris County. In 2019, the Harris County district attorney’s office began an investigation into a now disgraced and indicted police officer, Gerald Goines. The Houston police department and the DA’s office have uncovered more than 100 fraudulent arrests and convictions in which courts have had to exonerate individuals.
Somewhere, I read that “justice is blind.” And somewhere, I read that “justice delayed is justice denied.” Why the delay?
The primary reason to pardon George Floyd is because it is the right thing to do for the man with the sole power to do it. If politics are at work, it shouldn’t wait until after the Democratic and GOP primaries.
In 2014, Abbott spoke in Lubbock alongside Gov. Rick Perry and state Sen. Wendy Davis, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, at the unveiling of a 13-foot-tall statue in honor of Timothy Cole.
Abbott said at the time: “Tim Cole’s statue will forever be a reminder that we must always pursue justice, no matter how long it takes.”
Well, Governor, how long? You were right on my brother, and our entire family is eternally grateful. Those on the right and left know what is right for George Floyd; the only right thing left to do is pardon him.
It has been said that one day we will all stand before the God of history and speak on our own behalf about what we’ve done. I can hear the God of history saying: “That was not enough, for when you had the opportunity to right a wrong, you did not help one of my creations.”
Cory Session of Fort Worth is vice president of the Innocence Project of Texas, which works to free those wrongfully convicted, and the brother of Timothy Cole.