Governor of Texas pardons former Army sergeant convicted of killing Black Lives Matter protester

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has granted a pardon to a former U.S. Army sergeant who was convicted of murder in the death of a Black Lives Matter protester in 2020.

Daniel Perry, aged 37, had been sentenced to 25 years in prison for the murder of Garrett Foster, a 28-year-old individual who was killed on a street in Austin on July 25, 2020. Foster, who had served in the U.S. Air Force, was among the many individuals who took part in nationwide protests following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers on May 25, 2020.

Foster met his unfortunate demise while in possession of a legally carried AK-47-style assault rifle.

In a unanimous recommendation, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles announced that Perry, a Republican, would be released. Just minutes after this decision, Abbott granted Perry a pardon.

The pardon granted Perry all of his rights, including the right to own firearms, despite the public release of his emails and online posts. The Associated Press described some of these writings as “shockingly racist.” These writings, which were not included during his trial, were made public last May during his sentencing hearing.

In a text message sent to a friend, Perry expressed his thoughts on the George Floyd protests, mentioning that he was considering going to Dallas to confront looters. Additionally, in a Facebook post approximately a month prior to Foster’s tragic death, he openly referred to himself as a racist.

“It’s official,” the post stated. “I have been labeled as a racist simply because I don’t agree with individuals behaving like animals at the zoo.”

Travis County District Attorney José Garza expressed strong condemnation towards the pardon in a statement released on Thursday. According to NBC News, Garza criticized the board and Governor Abbott, accusing them of undermining the integrity of our legal system.

According to Garza, the actions of these individuals go against the law and indicate the existence of two distinct classes of people in the state. This situation implies that certain lives hold more value than others. Garza further added that this message is being sent not only to Garrett Foster’s family and partner but also to the entire community, suggesting that Foster’s life is somehow less significant.

Perry, who was stationed at Fort Cavazos (formerly known as Fort Hood) during the shooting incident, had been working as a ride-share driver that night. As he made a turn onto a downtown street, he unexpectedly encountered a gathering of protesters.

Witnesses at the scene reported to Austin police investigators that Perry honked his horn at the group, prompting Foster to approach his vehicle while other protesters started hitting the car.

According to Perry’s account to the police, he fired his weapon at Foster after Foster pointed the rifle at him. Foster was hit by multiple shots and succumbed to his injuries shortly after being taken to Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas.

According to the AP, video footage streamed live on Facebook captured the chaotic scene.

During the trial, the defense contended that Perry had acted in self-defense when he fired his handgun at Foster. However, the prosecution countered that he had other options available, such as driving away from the scene instead of resorting to violence.

According to the AP, witnesses who were present during the fatal encounter testified that Foster did not raise his rifle.

The parole board members made their decision after thoroughly examining the gathered information on the case.

According to a statement from the Board of Pardons and Paroles, the members thoroughly examined Perry’s case and delved into its complexities. Their investigative efforts included a meticulous review of various documents, such as police reports, court records, witness statements, and interviews with individuals connected to the case.

Governor Abbott had already expressed his intention to seek a pardon for Perry in the event of his conviction. As expected, Perry was found guilty of murder on April 7, 2023, prompting the governor to swiftly request the board to review the case on the following day.

According to Abbott, Texas has a robust self-defense law called “Stand Your Ground” that cannot be overruled by a jury or a progressive district attorney.

According to Sheila Foster, the mother of the convicted individual, she expressed her disappointment in Governor Perry’s pardon request, stating that it undermined the sense of peace and justice that her family had finally obtained.

Sheila Foster expressed her astonishment, stating, “I am truly baffled. I find it hard to believe that this is my reality and that these events are unfolding before me.”

Foster expressed how her anxiety became overwhelming and how her family struggled to move forward from the grief caused by her son’s tragic death.

“I am really eager to find closure and justice in this situation,” she expressed.

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