Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has announced on social media he wants to find a way to pardon Daniel Perry, a Fort Hood Army sergeant who was tried and found guilty of murdering a protester in Austin during the Black Lives Matter protests after the police killing of George Floyd.
Perry, 35, was found guilty on April 7 of murdering 28-year-old Foster on July 25, 2020. Foster was protesting as part of the mass protests that followed Floyd’s May 25, 2020, death while in the custody of Minneapolis police.
Video of police kneeling on Floyd’s neck and repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe” went viral, triggering protests around the world.
Both Perry and Foster are white.
“I am working as swiftly as Texas law allows regarding the pardon of Sgt. Perry,” Abbott said in a tweet on April 8. “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 he has already requested that the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles expedite his requested review of Perry’s conviction. Texas law doesn’t allow a governor to approve a pardon without a recommendation from the board, CNN reported.
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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton posted later that he agreed with the governor.
“I look forward to approving the Board’s pardon recommendation as soon as it hits my desk,” Abbott said in a later statement.
Perry has claimed he acted in self-defense, although a jury didn’t see it like that and found him guilty of murder on April 7. The jury’s decision was unanimous and was reached after the panelists heard from 40 witnesses and deliberated for 15 hours.
According to the evidence presented during the two-week trial, both men were legally armed when Perry, who was working as an Uber driver, drove onto a downtown Austin street that was blocked by a crowd of 20 Black Lives Matter protesters.
Foster, who was armed with a rifle, had been protesting alongside his girlfriend for 50 straight days. He approached Perry’s vehicle. Perry opened fire, later claiming Foster had raised his weapon. Witnesses denied Perry’s claim.
Abbott’s intention to pardon Perry is causing Garrett Foster’s mother, Sheila Foster, great pain, CBS News reported.
Sheila Foster said Abbott’s words “literally buckled me over. I haven’t left my house. I didn’t do anything on Easter. I’m shaking like a leaf right now. I’m sick to my stomach. I can’t eat anything, and it’s almost like all that weight was lifted in that verdict and now it feels like the biggest hammer in the world is crashing down on me.”
“I would honestly ask just anyone, including the governor, if you’re trying to take a side in this deal, at least look at the evidence first,” she said.
“The governor is the most powerful elected official in the state of Texas,” said Sheila Foster’s civil attorney, Quentin Brogdon. “Nobody, including the governor of the State of Texas, should shut down the process of the rule of law — and it appears that’s what the intent is here.”
Photo: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott after a debate with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke, Sept. 30, 2022, in McAllen, Texas. (AP/Eric Gay)