Texas DA seeks to overturn governor's pardon of man convicted of fatally shooting protester

Daniel Perry was convicted of fatally shooting a Black Lives Matter protester.

June 5, 2024, 11:59 AM

A Texas district attorney said he plans to file a petition to overturn Gov. Greg Abbott's pardon of Daniel Perry, who was convicted of murder in the fatal shooting of a protester at a Black Lives Matter rally in 2020.

"The Board of Pardon and Paroles, and the governor, put their politics over justice and make a mockery of our legal system," Travis County District Attorney José Garza said in a press conference on Tuesday that was streamed by local ABC news outlet KVUE. "For that, they should be ashamed of themselves. Their actions were contrary to the law."

Perry was sentenced to 25 years in prison, but was pardoned by Abbott last month.

This booking photo provided by the Austin, Texas, Police Department shows U.S. Army Sgt. Daniel Perry.
Austin Police Department via AP

In an open letter following the pardon, 14 attorneys general from across the country called on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Perry's killing of protester Garrett Foster.

"The facts of the case were egregious," the letter read. "Mr. Perry shot and killed Mr. Foster, after having googled the locations of protests and sent a text message that he was considering traveling to another city to 'shoot looters.' His internet search history includes evidence that he intended to cover up his crime (including a search for whether 'the federal government [has] the ballistics of every firearm sold legally'). He also sent and shared racist and anti-Muslim messages and memes advocating vigilante murder."

Perry, an active-duty U.S. Army sergeant based in Texas at Fort Hood, was working as a driver for a ride-sharing company when he drove onto a street crowded with protesters on July 25, 2020, in Austin, Texas, according to police.

Garrett Foster, 28, was pushing his fiancée in a wheelchair during the protest when police say Perry's car was surrounded by protesters.

Foster, who was carrying an AK-47-type rifle, approached Perry's car and was then shot several times by Perry, according to police. Open carry is legal in Texas.

Witnesses testified at the trial that Foster never raised his rifle at Perry. However, Perry told police that Foster did raise the rifle, according to local outlet Austin American-Statesman. Perry did not take the stand at his trial.

Perry's attorneys argued he had no choice but to shoot Foster for his own protection, according to ABC affiliate KVUE.

Prosecutors argued that Perry could have driven away before firing.

Abbott slammed both the jury's decision to convict Perry and Garza for pursuing the case.

"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 said in a statement announcing the pardon.

Gov. Greg Abbott speaks after signing bills designated towards enhancing border security, Austin, June 8, 2023.
Brandon Bell/Getty Images, FILE

"Additionally, I have already prioritized reining in rogue district attorneys and the Texas Legislature is working on laws to achieve that goal," Abbot said.

Garza said in a statement to ABC News: "In a state that believes in upholding the importance of the rule of law, the Governor's statement that he will intervene in the legal proceedings surrounding the death of Garrett Foster is deeply troubling."

Garza continued, "In our legal system, a jury ... gets to decide whether a defendant is guilty or innocent – not the Governor."

Perry's attorneys and representatives for Gov. Abbott did not immediately respond to ABC News' requests for comment.

Related Topics