Abbott Pardons Daniel Perry, Who Was Convicted of Killing a BLM Protester in 2020

News & Politics

Daniel Perry, the former U.S. Army sergeant who was convicted of murdering a Black Lives Matter protester in 2020, was pardoned by Gov. Greg Abbott (R-Texas) and released from prison.

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Perry was convicted in April 2023 of first-degree murder for fatally shooting 28-year-old Air Force veteran Garrett Foster, who was carrying a loaded assault rifle when Perry drove into a crowd of BLM protesters. Foster motioned for Perry to lower his driver-side window at which point, Perry shot him.

The Board of Pardons and Paroles said in a statement on Thursday that the board’s “investigative efforts encompassed a meticulous review of pertinent documents, from police reports to court records, witness statements, and interviews with individuals linked to the case.” Abbott had asked the board to investigate the case soon after the sentence was handed down.

“Among the voluminous files reviewed by the Board, they considered information provided by the Travis County District Attorney, the full investigative report on Daniel Perry, plus a review of all the testimony provided at trial,” Abbott said in a statement.

“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. I thank the Board for its thorough investigation, and I approve their pardon recommendation,” Abbott added.

Doug O’Connell, an attorney for Perry, said in a statement that his client is “thrilled” to be free.

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“I spoke with Daniel this afternoon. He is thrilled and elated to be free. Daniel is also optimistic for his future,” O’Connell said in a statement. “He wishes that this tragic event never happened and wishes he never had to defend himself against Mr. Foster’s unlawful actions. At the same time, Daniel recognizes that the Foster family is grieving. We are anxious to see Daniel reunited with his family and loved ones.”

There were many twists and turns in this case. It was not a cut-and-dried case of self-defense, nor was it a racist attacking a Black Lives Matter protest. 

CNN:

During Perry’s sentencing hearing last May, the prosecution asked that he be sentenced to at least 25 years in prison. They highlighted a stream of racist and inflammatory social media posts Perry wrote prior to the shooting and the defense’s own analysis of his mental disorders and mindset.

“This man is a loaded gun ready to go off on any perceived threat that he thinks he has to address in his black and white world and his us versus them mentality,” a prosecutor said.

None of that matters materially. He could have posted anything on Facebook, including any racist writings, and the jury could only give it the same weight as they would any other evidence. What was important was his state of mind at the time of the shooting. And Perry claims he was in fear for his life.

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Perry’s defense team asked for a sentence of 10 years, citing his lack of criminal history, his psychological issues, including complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and praise from several of his military colleagues.

They argued his actions were justified as self-defense. Perry told police during an interview that he believed Foster was going to aim the firearm at him, according to CNN affiliate KEYE.

Perry’s pardon will upset supporters of Black Lives Matter and the family of Garrett Foster. But you have to view what happened in the context of the times. The hysteria that Black Lives Matter generated during these protests made people feel threatened.

Was Foster advancing toward Perry’s care in a menacing fashion? Was the crowd surrounding his car getting out of hand? Whatever went through the mind of Daniel Perry, it almost certainly wasn’t racism.

Garrett Foster was white.

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