Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said this weekend he plans to grant a pardon to Daniel Perry, a man who murdered a Black Lives Matter protester in the summer of 2020 just weeks after posting on Facebook, “I might have to kill a few people on my way to work.”
Perry, a U.S. Army sergeant who was driving for Uber at the time, shot and killed 28-year-old Garrett Foster during a protest in Austin following the murder of George Floyd. Perry’s lawyers said during the trial that a crowd swarmed him and he feared for his life because Foster was holding an AK-47, and that Perry ultimately acted in self-defense under Texas’s “stand your ground” statute.
But evidence presented during the trial refuted Perry’s claims, and included private messages and social media posts where he seemingly fantasized about having the opportunity to kill people. “I might have to kill a few people on my way to work, they are rioting outside my apartment complex,” Perry wrote to a friend in June 2020, a month before he killed Foster. In another message, Perry wrote: “I might go to Dallas to shoot looters.”
The case was reminiscent of the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, who killed two protesters later that year during an uprising in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Unlike Rittenhouse, however, Perry was actually found guilty of murder Friday following a week of deliberations. In Texas that can carry a sentence anywhere from five years to life in prison. (Perry was found not guilty of aggravated assault.)
Rittenhouse himself, and Fox News host Tucker Carlson, immediately began lobbying Abbott to pardon Perry. “This is a legal atrocity,” Carlson said during his show Friday night, imploring Abbott to pardon Perry. “There is no right of self-defense in Texas.”
Less than 24 hours after Perry was convicted, and before he has even been sentenced, Abbott said in a Saturday statement he’d move to pardon Perry, saying Texas’s “stand your ground” law “cannot be nullified by a jury or progressive District Attorney.”
Abbott said that he’d requested the state board overseeing pardons to consider recommending a pardon for Perry, and that: “I look forward to approving the Board’s pardon recommendation as soon as it hits my desk.” Abbott said he also wants to prioritize “reigning in rogue District Attorneys,” ostensibly a reference to Travis County District Attorney José Garza, whose office brought the case against Perry.
Garrett Foster’s partner, Whitney Mitchell, said that she “felt some sense of justice and relief” after Perry was convicted, in a Sunday statement to Austin TV station KVUE.
“The governor has immediately taken that away since he announced there are two legal systems in Texas: One for those with power, like Mr. Perry, and one for everyone else,” Mitchell told KVUE.
Abbott, who is in his third term and ninth year as governor, has given pardons sparingly in the past, granting just 17 since 2020 after receiving recommendations from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, according to the Texas Tribune. All of those were for lower-level and mostly nonviolent offenses, the Tribune reported.
In 2021, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles recommended pardoning George Floyd posthumously for a minor drug conviction from 2004, for which Floyd had been convicted based on the testimony of a Houston cop later found to have repeatedly fabricated evidence. But Abbott did not grant that pardon, and the following year, the same board recommended against a pardon unanimously.
In a statement, Garza said Abbott’s pledge to “intervene in the legal proceedings surrounding the death of Garrett Foster is deeply troubling.”
“After hearing from civilian eyewitnesses and expert witnesses, and deliberating for over fifteen hours, [the jury] reached the unanimous decision that Daniel Perry did not kill Garrett Foster in self-defense and was guilty of murder beyond a reasonable doubt,” Garza said in the statement. “In our legal system, a jury gets to decide whether a defendant is guilty or innocent—not the Governor.”
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