Texas Gov. Greg Abbott pardoned Daniel Perry, an Army sergeant convicted of murdering a protester in 2020

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday pardoned the Army sergeant who was convicted last year of murder in the fatal shooting of a protester in downtown Austin in July 2020. Daniel Perry was convicted by a Travis County jury last year of murdering Garrett Foster and sentenced to 25 years in prison. But at the same time, Abbott made it clear that he would like to pardon Perry and asked the Board of Pardons and Paroles to review Perry’s case.

The board unanimously recommended pardoning Perry on Thursday, and Abbott signed the statement shortly afterward.

Perry encountered a group of protesters in downtown Austin on July 25, 2020, about 70 miles from where he was staying at Fort Hood, police said. The group demonstrated against racial injustice and police brutality following the killing of George Floyd, a Black man who was murdered by a Minnesota police officer weeks earlier.

Foster attended the protest and was legally carrying a semi-automatic rifle as he approached the intersection where Perry was sitting in his car. Perry then fired a handgun at Foster from the vehicle.

Police said Perry told them that Foster, an Air Force veteran, pointed the rifle at him and that he acted in self-defense. Abbott argued that Perry should have been exempt from prosecution under Texas’ “Stand Your Ground” law.

Prosecutors used Perry’s previous social media posts and text messages to portray him as a racist at trial, claiming he could have simply driven away without firing his gun. Witnesses also said they never saw Foster point his gun at Perry.

Perry was convicted of murder but acquitted on a second count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

The governor’s pardon Thursday restores Perry’s rights as if he had never been convicted, including the right to own firearms.

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