Reforms pushed in Texas as trial nears in George Floyd death

FILE - In this Monday, June 8, 2020, file photo, local residents and alumni of Jack Yates High School take part in a candlelight vigil to honor George Floyd, in Houston. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis Police officers on May 25. As the trial surrounding the death of Floyd begins in Minneapolis, a sweeping package of police reforms in his native Texas has scarce signs of early support within the states GOP majority. The George Floyd Act was scheduled to get its first hearing in the Texas Capitol on Thursday, March 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
FILE - In this Monday, June 8, 2020, file photo, local residents and alumni of Jack Yates High School take part in a candlelight vigil to honor George Floyd, in Houston. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis Police officers on May 25. As the trial surrounding the death of Floyd begins in Minneapolis, a sweeping package of police reforms in his native Texas has scarce signs of early support within the states GOP majority. The George Floyd Act was scheduled to get its first hearing in the Texas Capitol on Thursday, March 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

AUSTIN, Texas – Outside of George Floyd's public memorial last summer in Texas, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott floated the possibility of a law named in honor of the longtime Houston resident that would take aim at police brutality.

But as the George Floyd Act was heard in the Texas Capitol for the first time Thursday, there were scarce early signs of GOP support for the package of sweeping police reforms introduced by Democrats, including from Abbott. The former Minneapolis police officer charged in Floyd's death is set to stand trial next week.

“Above all, this bill is about ending systemic racism," said Democratic state Rep. Senfronia Thompson, who is carrying the bill and is the longest-serving woman and Black person in the Texas Legislature, which she joined in 1973.

Floyd, who was Black, was laid to rest in Texas following his death in May after Derek Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee against his neck for about nine minutes while he was handcuffed and pleading that he couldn’t breathe. Chauvin is charged with murder and manslaughter in a trial that begins Monday in Minneapolis.

Members of Floyd's family testified in a hearing that also touched on other policing deaths, including Javier Ambler, a Black man who died in police custody and was heard saying on body camera video that he was having trouble breathing while being detained by sheriff's deputies near Austin.

Provisions of the bill include banning chokeholds and requiring officers to intervene if another officer is using excessive force.

Abbott has not commented publicly on the legislation.

“I think the governor's reading the tea leaves to see where the other members of the Republican caucus are,” said Democratic state Rep. Ron Reynolds, the vice chairman of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus.