Texas Governor Greg Abbott has announced that he is seeking a pardon for an Uber driver convicted of murder in the shooting death of a man at a Black Lives Matter protest in Austin in July 2020. Abbott tweeted that he would pardon Daniel Perry, a U.S. Army sergeant, as soon as a request from the parole board “hits my desk.” However, Abbott clarified that he could only grant pardons on the recommendation of the state’s Board of Pardons and Paroles but that he is allowed to request pardons.
The case revolved around whether the shooting was in self-defense. A jury found on Friday that Perry, who is white, shot and killed Garrett Foster, a 28-year-old white man carrying an AK-47. Perry was driving in the city the night of the shooting and turned his Uber vehicle onto a street where a Black Lives Matter crowd was marching, according to media. Perry stopped, and several protesters, including Foster, approached his vehicle. Protesters told police that they feared they were being assaulted by the vehicle, according to media accounts.
Perry’s defense team claimed the weapon was leveled at him, and he had no choice but to fire his pistol in self-defense. However, the jury convicted Perry of murder after deliberating for 17 hours in the eight-day trial.
Abbott’s announcement sparked immediate controversy, with critics accusing him of politicizing the case and undermining the justice system. The Texas governor has been a vocal supporter of the “Stand your ground” law, which allows individuals to use deadly force in self-defense. He has frequently clashed with Democratic prosecutors over their handling of criminal cases.
Jose Garza, the district attorney for Travis County, where the case was tried and where Austin is located, is a Democrat and has been in office since Jan. 1, 2021. He said that “the governor’s decision to intervene in this case is deeply troubling and sends the message that, even when our community demands justice through our courts, those decisions may be disregarded by those who hold power.”
Meanwhile, Foster’s father regretted the verdict but said the case had no winners. “We’re happy with the verdict. We’re very sorry for his family as well. There are no winners in this,” Stephen Foster said.
Perry faces life in prison and is due to be sentenced by State District Court Judge Clifford Brown on Tuesday, according to online court records for the 147th District Court in Travis County, Texas. The case has highlighted the ongoing debate over using deadly force in self-defense and the role of political influence in the justice system.