Governor Greg Abbott pardons Daniel Perry: Full Details

Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a full pardon on Thursday to former U.S. Army Sergeant Daniel Perry, who was convicted of murder for fatally shooting an armed demonstrator during the 2020 protests against police violence and racial injustice.

Abbott’s announcement came shortly after the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles unanimously recommended Perry’s pardon and restoration of his firearms rights. Perry had been serving a 25-year sentence in state prison following his 2023 conviction.

The Republican governor had previously instructed the board to review Perry’s case and had pledged to sign a pardon if recommended. Following the board’s unanimous recommendation, posted on their website, Abbott swiftly granted the pardon.

Sgt. Daniel Perry
Sgt Daniel Perry

In 2023, a jury in Austin convicted Perry of murdering 28-year-old Garrett Foster, an Air Force veteran legally carrying an AK-47 while participating in a Black Lives Matter protest. Perry, working as a ride-share driver in July 2020, turned his car onto a street crowded with demonstrators and shot Foster before driving away.

Perry’s case was one of at least 25 killings during the political protests and unrest of 2020, which included thousands of peaceful demonstrations following the police killing of George Floyd. The case became a rallying point for conservatives, who urged the governor to ensure Perry’s release.

Court records released in April revealed that in the weeks leading up to the shooting, Perry had sent racist messages about protesters, shared white supremacist memes, and talked about potentially having to kill demonstrators. In a 76-page filing, Perry compared the Black Lives Matter movement to “a zoo full of monkeys that are freaking out flinging their shit.”

Governor Abbott’s decision to review Perry’s case followed pressure from former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who had urged Abbott to intervene after Perry’s conviction in April 2022. Carlson dedicated a segment to the case, calling it a “legal atrocity” and blaming it on progressive prosecutors. Abbott announced the review the following day.

Right-wing groups and figures like Carlson had similarly supported Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot and killed two protesters at a Black Lives Matter protest in Wisconsin in 2020. Rittenhouse was found not guilty of murder, claiming self-defense, and has since become a pro-gun advocate and conservative speaker.

Abbott praised the board’s recommendation to pardon Perry and highlighted Texas’s “stand your ground” self-defense laws.

During Perry’s trial, prosecutors argued that he could have driven away without firing his weapon. Witnesses testified that they never saw Foster raise his gun. Perry’s defense attorneys claimed Foster raised the rifle, leaving Perry no choice but to shoot. Perry did not testify, and jurors deliberated for two days before finding him guilty.

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