Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says he wants to pardon a man found guilty of murdering a racial justice protester in July 2020. The man, Daniel Perry, was found guilty on Friday nearly three years after he shot and killed Garrett Foster. Abbott announced his intention to pardon Perry less than 24 hours after the verdict.
Perry was driving for Uber when he turned onto a street with a large crowd of demonstrators in downtown Austin. Foster, who attended the protest with his fiancée, was carrying an AK-47 rifle and approached the vehicle. Perry, who was legally carrying a handgun, later told police he shot Foster in self-defense after Foster raised the rifle at him, but witnesses at the trial testified that Foster never raised the gun. Perry’s self-defense claim was called into question by his social media posts and Facebook messages, including one where, according to the Austin American-Statesman, he wrote he might “try to kill a few people on my way to work. They are rioting outside my apartment complex.” The jury deliberated for 17 hours over two days this week before delivering its guilty verdict.
Abbott issued a statement about the conviction on Saturday, writing, “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 that he had requested that the state Board of Pardons and Paroles consider Perry for a pardon, and asked that it be expedited. “I look forward to approving the Board’s pardon recommendation as soon as it hits my desk,” he wrote.
Abbott also referred to his broader goal of “reining in rogue District Attorneys” in his statement. The Texas state legislature has sought to limit the power of left-leaning prosecutors who have said they won’t prosecute abortion cases (including José Garza, who charged Perry), as well as those who have expressed doubt about whether prosecutors should pursue election fraud cases.
Garza issued a statement on Sunday condemning Abbott’s effort to pardon Perry. “In a state that believes in upholding the importance of the rule of law, the governor’s statement that he will intervene in the legal proceedings surrounding the death of Garrett Foster is deeply troubling,” Garza said, “a jury gets to decide whether a defendant is guilty or innocent—not the governor.”