Texas Gov. Abbott Pardons Army Sergeant Who Killed Armed BLM Protester

FILE - A person holds their fist in the air, April 20, 2021, in Washington at Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House after the verdict in the murder trial against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was announced in Minneapolis. On Tuesday, June 27, 2023, a California judge dismissed a civil lawsuit that grassroots racial justice activists from around the U.S. brought last summer against a foundation with stewardship of the Black Lives Matter movement’s charitable endowment worth tens of millions of dollars. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a pardon on Thursday for the Army sergeant convicted of murder last year in the fatal shooting of a protester in downtown Austin in July 2020.Daniel Perry was found guilty in the murder of Garrett Foster by a Travis County jury last year and sentenced to 25 years in prison. But at the same time, Abbott made clear that he would like to pardon Perry and asked the Board of Pardons and Paroles to consider Perry’s case.

The board offered a unanimous recommendation on Thursday to pardon Perry, and Abbott signed the declaration soon after.

Travis County District Attorney José Garza condemned the pardon, saying the board and Abbott have “made a mockery of our legal system.”

Perry encountered a group of protesters in downtown Austin on July 25, 2020, roughly 70 miles from where he was based in Fort Hood, police said. The group were demonstrating against racial injustice and police brutality in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, a Black man who was murdered weeks prior by a Minnesota police officer.

Foster was taking part in the protest and was legally carrying a semi-automatic rifle at the time when he approached the intersection where Perry was in his car. Perry then shot Foster from the vehicle with a handgun.

Police said Perry told them that Foster, an Air Force veteran, had pointed the rifle at him and he acted in self-defense. Abbott argued that Perry should have been exempt from prosecution under Texas’ “Stand Your Ground” law.

Prosecutors used prior social media posts and text messages from Perry to portray him as a racist at trial, and that he could have simply driven away without firing his weapon. Witnesses also testified that they never saw Foster raise his firearm at Perry.

Perry was convicted of murder, but acquitted of a second charge, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

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