Travis County District Attorney José Garza published a statement on Easter Sunday defending the murder conviction of Army Sgt. Daniel Perry, who shot and killed an armed protester during a Black Lives Matter demonstration in the summer of 2020.
After 17 hours of deliberation, a Travis County jury convicted Perry of killing 28-year-old Garrett Foster, who pointed a rifle at Perry as a group of protesters surrounded Perry’s car in downtown Austin on the evening of July 25, 2020. Perry was driving for Uber and honked his horn at protesters blocking an intersection.
Shortly after the conviction, Gov. Greg Abbott announced he is weighing a pardon.
“I am working as swiftly as Texas law allows regarding the pardon of Sgt. Perry,” Abbott stated over the weekend.
Abbott has requested a recommendation for a pardon from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, which the Texas Constitution requires prior to a pardon by the governor.
He also pointed out that he has “prioritized reining in rogue District Attorneys, and the Texas Legislature is working on laws to achieve that goal.” Abbott was likely referring to House Bill 17 or Senate Bill 20, both of which would prohibit the adoption of policies not to prosecute certain crimes and establish procedures for removing a district attorney from office.
During his 2020 campaign for district attorney, José Garza was backed by more than $400,000 in political ads paid for by the Texas Justice and Public Safety PAC, which has received millions in funding from liberal billionaire George Soros. A defense attorney and the former director of the Austin-based Workers Defense Project, Garza campaigned on eliminating bail for nonviolent crimes, not prosecuting drug crimes involving less than a gram of an illegal substance, and holding police officers accountable for misconduct. During his tenure, a number of police officers have been indicted, and Austin residents have complained about increased crime and reduced police response times.
A witness to the shooting said Perry provoked the protesters by driving his vehicle toward them, but Perry claimed he acted in self-defense when he shot Foster five times.
David Fugitt, the Austin Police Department’s lead detective on the case, testified on Perry’s behalf, saying he didn’t arrest him when responding to the incident because he thought self-defense was a reasonable justification for Perry’s actions.
Texas is one of around two dozen states that have a “stand your ground” law, which authorizes the use of deadly force if an individual feels someone else is threatening his life.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick told Fox News that Fugitt was directed by Garza to remove exculpatory evidence from his presentation to the jury, an action Fugitt—who now works for the attorney general’s office—equates with witness tampering.
“This DA, like a lot of the George Soros-supported DAs across the country in our big, blue cities, seemed to let criminals go free and go after the innocent,” Patrick explained.
“This case should have never been prosecuted,” Republican Party of Texas Chairman Matt Rinaldi stated on Twitter. “A pardon by @GregAbbott_TX is in order.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is also supporting Abbott’s effort to pardon Perry.
In an office press release, Garza lashed out at Abbott for considering a pardon.
“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,” stated Garza. “In our legal system, a jury that gets to decide whether a defendant is guilty or innocent—not the Governor.”
Perry is currently stationed at Fort Wainwright, Alaska.