Gov. Greg Abbott pardons Daniel Perry, veteran who killed police brutality protester in 2020

A jury sentenced Perry to 25 years in prison last year, prompting Abbott to ask the state parole board to review his case.

ByWilliam Melhado, The Texas Tribune
Thursday, May 16, 2024
Daniel Perry sentenced to 25 years for killing BLM protestor in 2020
Daniel Perry, the former U.S. Army sergeant convicted of killing veteran Garrett Foster during a BLM protest in Austin, was sentenced to 25 years.

More than a year after a Travis County jury convicted Daniel Perry of murdering a protester in Austin, Gov. Greg Abbott pardoned the former U.S. Army sergeant on Thursday, shortly after the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles recommended a full pardon.

A Texas state district court judge sentenced Perry in May 2023 to 25 years in prison for shooting and killing U.S. Air Force veteran Garrett Foster during a 2020 demonstration protesting police brutality against people of color.

The video above is from a 2023 report when Perry was sentenced.

One day after a jury convicted Perry, Abbott directed the parole board to review the former U.S. Army sergeant's case.

"Among the voluminous files reviewed by the Board, they considered information provided by the Travis County District Attorney, the full investigative report on Daniel Perry, plus a review of all the testimony provided at trial," Abbott said in a statement announcing the proclamation that absolved Perry. "Texas has one of the strongest 'Stand Your Ground' laws of self-defense that cannot be nullified by a jury or a progressive District Attorney."

Abbott approved the board's recommendation, which included restoration of Perry's firearm rights.

"The members of the Board of Pardons and Paroles delved into the intricacies of Perry's case. The investigative efforts encompassed a meticulous review of pertinent documents, from police reports to court records, witness statements, and interviews with individuals linked to the case," the pardon board wrote in a Thursday statement.

Perry was driving for Uber when he encountered protesters a few blocks from the Capitol in downtown Austin. He stopped his car and honked at protesters as they walked through the street. Seconds later, he drove his car into the crowd, Austin police said.

Foster was openly carrying an AK-47 rifle at the time, and during the trial, each side presented conflicting accounts as to whether the protester raised the gun to Perry, who was also legally armed. Perry shot Foster and then fled the area, police said. He then called the police and reported what happened, claiming he shot in self-defense after Foster aimed his weapon at him.

The case caught the attention of influential conservative voices like former Fox News host Tucker Carlson and Texas GOP Chair Matt Rinaldi, who both pressured Abbott to pardon Perry, saying he acted in self-defense in the face of dangerous protests.

Abbott rarely issues pardons, which the board must recommend before the governor can act. Abbott granted three pardons in 2023, two in 2022, and eight in 2021-most for lower-level offenses.

Shortly after Perry's conviction, unsealed court documents revealed he had made a slew of racist, threatening comments about protesters in text messages and social media posts. Days after George Floyd's murder by a Minneapolis police officer prompted nationwide protests, Perry sent a text message saying, "I might go to Dallas to shoot looters." Both Perry and Foster are white.

During his trial, several colleagues in the Army testified that Perry treated everyone fairly, regardless of race. His lawyers called Perry's social media posts and messages as "barracks humor."

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