Texas Governor Pardons Ex-Army Sergeant Convicted of Killing Black Lives Matter Protester

Texas Protest Shooting
Daniel Perry enters the courtroom at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center, May 10, 2023, in Austin, Texas. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP, Pool, File)

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a full pardon Thursday for a former U.S. Army sergeant convicted of murder for fatally shooting an armed demonstrator in 2020 during nationwide protests against police violence and racial injustice.

Abbott announced the pardon just a few minutes after the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles announced that it unanimously recommended that Daniel Perry be pardoned and have his firerams rights restored. Perry has been held in state prison on a 25-year sentence since his conviction in 2023 in the killing of Garrett Foster.

Abbott, a Republican, had previously previously ordered the board to review Perry’s case and said he would sign a pardon if recommended. Under Texas law, the governor cannot issue a pardon without a recommendation from the board, which the governor appoints.

“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.

Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza blasted the pardon as a “mockery of our legal system.”

“The board and the governor have put their politics over justice,” Garza said. “They should be ashamed of themselves. Their actions are contrary to the law and demonstrate that there are two classes of people in this state where some lives matter and some lives do not. They have sent a message to Garrett Foster’s family, to his partner, and to our community that his life does not matter. ”

Abbott’s demand for a review of Perry’s case followed pressure from former Fox News star Tucker Carlson, who on national television had urged the governor to intervene after the sergeant was convicted at trial in April 2023. Perry was sentenced after prosecutors used his social media history and text messages to portray him as a racist who may commit violence again.

Prosecutors argued Perry could have driven away without opening fire and witnesses testified that they never saw Foster raise his gun. The sergeant’s defense attorneys argued Foster, who is white, did raise the rifle and that Perry had no choice but to shoot. Perry, who is also white, did not take the witness stand and jurors deliberated for two days before finding him guilty.

Perry's attorneys did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The shooting set off fierce debate in 2020, amid the demonstrations sparked by a white Minneapolis police officer’s killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man. Perry’s conviction three years later prompted outrage from prominent conservatives.

Before sentencing in the case, Carlson aired a broadcast calling the shooting an act of self-defense and criticizing Abbott for not coming on his show. The next day, Abbott said he believed Perry should not be punished and told Texas’ parole board to expedite a review of the conviction.

Abbott appoints the Board of Pardons and Paroles and state law requires that it recommend a pardon before he can act.

After the verdict but before Perry was sentenced, the court unsealed dozens of pages of text messages and social media posts that showed he had hostile views toward Black Lives Matter protests. In a comment on Facebook a month before the shooting, Perry wrote, “It is official I am a racist because I do not agree with people acting like animals at the zoo.”

Perry served in the Army for more than a decade. At trial, a forensic psychologist testified that he believed Perry has post-traumatic stress disorder from his deployment to Afghanistan and from being bullied as a child. At the time of the shooting, Perry was stationed at Fort Cavazos, then Fort Hood, about 70 miles (110 kilometers) north of Austin.


This story has been updated to correct that Perry's conviction was in 2023, not 2022.

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