Texas Governor Pardons Ex-Army Sergeant Convicted of Murdering Black Lives Matter Protesters – WPXI

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has pardoned a former U.S. Army sergeant who was convicted last year of killing a Black Lives Matter protester in 2020.

Daniel Perry, 37, was serving a 25-year sentence for the July 25, 2020 killing of 28-year-old Garrett Foster on an Austin street. Foster, a U.S. Air Force veteran, was one of thousands of people who protested across the country following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers on May 25, 2020.

When Foster was killed, he was legally carrying an AK-47-style assault rifle.

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Abbott, a Republican, pardoned Perry minutes after the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles announced its unanimous recommendation to release Perry.

The pardon, which restores all of Perry’s rights – including the right to own firearms, was granted despite the publication of Perry’s emails and online posts, some of which The Associated Press called “shockingly racist.” The documents excluded from his trial were made public during his sentencing hearing last May.

In a text message to a friend, Perry commented on the George Floyd protests by saying he “might go to Dallas to shoot looters.” In a Facebook post a month before Foster’s murder, he called himself a racist.

“It’s official,” the post said. “I’m a racist because I don’t agree with people acting like animals in the zoo.”

Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza condemned the pardon in a statement Thursday, saying the board and Abbott had “made a mockery of our legal system,” according to NBC News.

“Your actions violate the law and demonstrate that there are two classes of people in this state, some lives matter and others do not,” Garza said. “You sent a message to Garrett Foster’s family, his partner and our community that his life doesn’t matter.”

Perry was stationed at Fort Cavazos, then known as Fort Hood, at the time of the shooting. According to authorities, he was working a part-time job as a rideshare driver that evening when he turned onto a downtown street and encountered a crowd of protesters.

Witnesses at the scene told Austin police investigators that Perry began honking at the group. Foster approached Perry’s vehicle as other protesters began attacking the car.

Perry, who told police that Foster had pointed the rifle at him, opened fire, striking Foster several times. Foster died a short time later at the University of Texas Dell Seton Medical Center.

According to the AP, a video streamed live on Facebook captured some of the chaos at the scene.

While the defense argued at trial that Perry acted in self-defense when he shot Foster, prosecutors argued that he could have driven away from the scene instead of firing his pistol.

Witnesses present during the deadly encounter said Foster never raised his rifle, the AP reported.

According to the members of the parole board, their decision came after a “thorough review of the information collected” about the case.

“Members of the Board of Pardons and Paroles delved deeply into the intricacies of Perry’s case,” the board said in a statement. “The investigative efforts included a careful review of relevant documents, from police reports to court records, witness statements and interviews with people connected to the case.”

Abbott had indicated before Perry’s sentencing that he would seek a pardon if the jury convicted the military veteran. Perry was convicted of murder on April 7, 2023, and the governor asked the board to review the case the next day.

“Texas has one of the strictest ‘Stand Your Ground’ self-defense laws that cannot be overturned by a jury or a progressive district attorney,” Abbott said.

Foster’s mother, Sheila Foster, told CBS Austin in February that the governor’s pardon request destroyed any peace and justice the family received from Perry’s conviction.

“I’m actually at a loss,” Sheila Foster said. “I just can’t believe this is my life and what’s happening.”

Foster said she was overcome with fear and her family could not overcome the grief following her son’s murder.

“I would really like to see closure and justice in this deal,” she said.

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