Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says he wants to pardon the man convicted of killing a Black Lives Matter protester.
U.S. Army Sgt. Daniel Perry was convicted of killing Garrett Foster on July 25, 2020, at a George Floyd protest in Austin, Texas.
Foster, an air force veteran, was shot and killed after Perry drove his Uber into a crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters and opened fire. Foster, 28, was armed with a legal AK-47 at the protest to protect himself and his fiancée, Whitney Mitchell. Foster was pushing Mitchell — who is a quadruple amputee — in her wheelchair when Perry drove into the crowd near Fourth Street and Congress Avenue. Perry opened fire as Foster approached his vehicle, shooting him five times before he sped off.
Perry was convicted of murder on April 7. Abbott announced he would pardon the 35-year-old convicted murderer on Twitter on April 8.
“I am working as swiftly as Texas law allows regarding the pardon of Sgt. Perry.”
Perry claimed he shot Foster in self-defense, despite witnesses claiming that Foster never raised his weapon. The jury in his trial saw prosecutors present online messages Perry had sent in the weeks before the shooting that showed him saying “No protesters go near me or my car” and “I might go to Dallas to shoot looters” as he talked to friends about the protests roiling the nation in the immediate aftermath of the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020.
The prosecution painted Perry as someone looking for a confrontation in the weeks before he killed Foster, presenting evidence of his online searches using terms like “riot shootouts,” “protest tonight,” and “protesters in Seattle get shot” before he shot a protester himself.
Although the jury was swayed by the prosecution’s arguments and evidence that Foster’s slaying is not justifiable, the Texas governor is not. Abbott referenced “a progressive District Attorney” in his announcement and the state’s “stand your ground” laws. Texas law states that one is allowed to use deadly force to prevent a violent crime.
“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,” wrote Abbott.
The Republican governor also wrote that he completed a request for the Board of Pardons and Paroles to review the case so he can move forward with granting the murderer a pardon. Under Texas law, he needs the Board’s recommendation before he can grant a pardon.
“I have made that request and instructed the Board to expedite its review,” he said. “I look forward to approving the Board’s pardon recommendation as soon as it hits my desk.”
Former federal prosecutor Michael Zeldin told CNN that Abbott was playing politics.
“He encounters these protesters, and rather than turn around and leave, he drives his car into the middle of them, and you can’t forget Charlottesville, where people were killed by a car doing the exact same thing,” said Zeldin. “So as he’s approached by the victim, instead of again leaving the scene as he could have, he opens fire on him. The jury deliberates 17 hours, Jim over an eight-day trial, and they convict him of murder.”
Zeldin also said that the Texas governor should let the jury’s verdict stand because they rejected Perry’s self-defense claim.
“The judge and Gov. Abbott should let the jury’s verdict stand,” he continued. “There’s no basis in law or fact for this. So, it, therefore, smacks of politics because this was a Black Lives Matter protester and you can’t ignore that context.”
Perry hasn’t yet been sentenced, but the parole board confirmed to NPR that they were acting on Abbott’s request.
Many conservatives pushed for the pardon on social media, including Kyle Rittenhouse, the MAGA supporter acquitted of murdering two BLM protesters in Wisconsin with an AR-15-style rifle. Rittenhouse asked the governor to pardon the murderer on Twitter and asked his followers to push for Perry’s release.
“This is very disappointing my thoughts are with Mr. Perry and his family. He was justified in defending his own life when an AK-47 was pointed at him and he doesn’t not deserve to be in jail,” he wrote. “@GovAbbott this is a [sic] unfair conviction please step in and free Daniel Perry.”
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick also pushed for a pardon during an appearance on “Cross Country” while claiming Perry had the right to defend himself.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson also called for a pardon on Twitter and invited the governor on his show. Carlson captioned the post, “Apparently the State of Texas no longer recognizes the right of [email protected]_TX is welcome to come on and discuss.” Carlson did not mention Foster’s right to defend himself against Perry.
Travis County District Attorney José Garza told NPR that the governor’s intervening in the case before the legal process was completed was troubling.
“In this case, a jury of twelve listened to testimony for nearly two weeks, upending their lives to painstakingly evaluate the evidence and arguments presented by both the State and the Defense,” Garza said.
Foster’s fiancée responded to Abbott’s plan to pardon Foster’s murderer on NBC News. “This is extremely wrong,” said a teary-eyed Mitchell as her voice cracked. “That’s all I have to say right now.”
Mitchell also released a statement shared on Twitter by KVUE News reporter Tony Plohetski.
“I felt some sense of justice and relief…The governor has immediately taken that away since he announced there are two legal systems in Texas: One for those with power, like Mr. Perry, and one for everyone else.”