Texas Gov. Greg Abbott promised Saturday to pardon a US Army sergeant a day after he was convicted of shooting a protester to death during a Black Lives Matter rally.
The Republican said Sgt. Daniel Perry, 35, was acting in his own defense when he repeatedly fired his handgun on 28-year-old Garrett Foster as he marched in the July 25, 2020 Austin demonstration.
“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 in a statement.
The governor blamed the Friday conviction on the county’s George Soros-backed Democrat District Attorney José Garza and promised to reign in “rogue District Attorneys.”
In a Twitter reply, Abbot said that he “strongly supports” a supporting theory that Garza “intentionally mislead the Grand Jury” throughout the trial.
Abbott said he is requesting that the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles “expedite” a review of Perry’s case and recommend a pardon, a power the state constitution limits him from making.
“I look forward to approving the Board’s pardon recommendation as soon as it hits my desk,” he said.
In the nearly three years since the shooting, Perry has claimed he fired at Foster only after the protester pointed an AK-47 into his car.
Perry — who was stationed at Fort Hood, about 70 miles north of Austin — had run into the rally during his shift as a rideshare driver and became enraged when protesters started beating his car.
Perry’s lawyers argued Foster — who was wearing a neoprene vest under his T-shirt and carrying an AK-47, a club and a knife — raised his gun first, prompting Perry to fire his handgun in self-defense.
Witnesses, however, testified that Foster had never raised the weapon and had been pushing his black, quadruple-amputee fiancée’s wheelchair when he was killed. Foster was white, as is Perry.
Prosecutors also introduced old social media posts Perry made that revealed his strong anti-protest feelings — in some posts, the Army sergeant claimed people could get away with shooting demonstrators in Texas.
Perry, who faces life in prison at sentencing, broke down when the conviction was read Friday.
“I visited Daniel in jail this morning. As you might expect, he is devastated. He spoke to me about his fears that he will never get to hug his Mother again. He’s also crushed that this conviction will end his Army service; he loves being a Soldier,” his lawyer, Doug O’Connell, said.
“Our entire team is physically & mentally exhausted after the last two weeks of trial. The battle is not over – we will continue to fight for Daniel.”