Texas governor Abbott pardons man who killed Black Lives Matter protester


US – Texas Governor Greg Abbott has granted a full pardon to a former US Army sergeant and Uber driver who was jailed for 25 years for fatally shooting a Black Lives Matter protester in 2020.
Abbott, a Republican, in his pardon proclamation, cited the state’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law, one of the strongest such measures in the United States.
The announcement came shortly after the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole unanimously recommended a pardon for Daniel Perry and restoration of his firearm rights following an investigation that the board conducted at the governor’s request.
Perry, 37, was found guilty in April 2023 of murder in the death of 28-year-old Garrett Foster, a US Air Force veteran who was shot at a Black Lives Matter rally in Austin, the state capital, in July 2020.
The demonstration came amid a storm of protests across the country against racial injustice and police brutality in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers in May of that year.
Perry insisted he was acting in self-defense when he shot Foster, claiming he had no choice but to open fire with his handgun when Foster pointed the AK-47 he was legally carrying at Perry. Perry is white, as was Foster.
Perry was driving in Austin that night and had turned his Uber car onto a street where the demonstrators were marching, leading members of the crowd to believe they were in danger of being assaulted by his vehicle, according to media accounts of the incident.
During the trial, the two sides presented conflicting accounts of whether Foster levelled his gun at Perry.
In his pardon proclamation, Abbott said the jury’s verdict in effect “nullified” the state’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law. The statute removes a person’s duty to retreat from an unprovoked threat of violence before using deadly force if that person has a right to be there.
Perry’s lawyer, Doug O’Connell, said the pardon “corrects the courtroom travesty” of his client’s conviction, adding that Perry was “thrilled and elated to be free”.
“Daniel Perry was imprisoned for 372 days and lost the military career he loved,” O’Connell said in the statement, quoted by Austin television station KXAN. “We intend to fight to get Daniel’s military service characterisation upgraded to an honourable discharge.”
According to KXAN, Foster’s fiancée, Whitney Mitchell, shared her reaction in a joint statement with her mother, calling the pardon a “devastating blow” that “reopened deep wounds”.
Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza, a Democrat whose office brought the case against Perry, condemned the pardon, saying the parole board and the governor had “put their politics over justice and made a mockery of our legal system”.
The parole board gave no specific reason for its recommendation but said its investigation “delved into the intricacies” of Perry’s case, including a review of police reports, court records and witness statements. (Al Jazeera)…[+]