Texas prosecutor asks court to revoke governor’s pardon for man who fatally shot protester – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

A prosecutor said Tuesday he is asking the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to overturn the governor’s pardon of a former Army sergeant convicted of fatally shooting a Black Lives Matter protester.

Travis County District Attorney José Garza and the family of Garrett Foster, who was killed during a protest in July 2020, have called Republican Governor Greg Abbott’s full pardon of Daniel Perry a travesty of the justice system.

Garza said Tuesday that Abbott had “put politics above justice” and vowed to use every available option to overturn the governor’s decision.

“We will continue to use the legal process to seek justice,” he said at a news conference in Austin.

The Court of Criminal Appeals is the state’s highest court for criminal cases. All nine elected judges are Republicans. Garza said he believes the case is unique in state history, from the quick request for a pardon and its approval to a request for the appeals court to intervene.

“All of this is new territory,” Garza said.

Abbott’s office did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment. An attorney for Perry’s legal team declined to comment.

Perry was sentenced to 25 years in prison in May 2023 for fatally shooting Foster during a demonstration in downtown Austin.

Foster’s mother, Sheila Foster, described the pardon as “absolutely unacceptable to our family.”

“We will fight this until we get justice for Garrett,” Foster said, her voice shaking with emotion. “My own child was murdered on American soil for doing nothing more than exercising his First and Second Amendment rights. And our governor just said, ‘That’s OK. That’s acceptable. ”

Perry, who is white, was working as a ride-share driver when his car approached the demonstration. Prosecutors said he could have driven away from the confrontation with Foster, a white Air Force veteran who witnesses said never raised his weapon.

A jury convicted Perry of murder, but Abbott called the shooting self-defense, noting Texas’ “Stand Your Ground” law. Abbott ordered the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to review Perry’s case, and granted a full pardon last month over the objections of Foster’s family and prosecutors. Perry was quickly released from prison.

Last month, 14 Democratic attorneys general from across the country said the U.S. Department of Justice should investigate whether Perry Foster denied his rights to freedom of speech and peaceful protest. Garza said Tuesday he was repeating that request.

A federal investigation could open Perry up to federal charges. The “DOJ has historically used federal civil rights laws to prosecute acts of hate, especially when states refuse or fail to hold people accountable for violating the civil rights of their fellow citizens,” the coalition of attorneys general said.

Garza said he will pursue what action he can in the state’s legal system, but would welcome federal investigation of the case.

“People across the country are outraged by what happened to Garrett and what happened to his family,” Garza said. “We are grateful for their request and would reiterate their request.”

Foster was killed amid the widespread demonstrations against police killings and racial injustice that followed the killing of George Floyd, a black man, by a white Minneapolis police officer. Perry’s conviction led to immediate calls for clemency from state and national conservatives.

“Throughout American history, our freedom of speech and right to peaceful protest have been two of the most powerful tools to fight injustice and oppression,” Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said last week. “Vigilante violence is unacceptable, especially when that violence is used to deprive Americans of their lives and most basic freedoms.”

Perry claimed he was trying to drive past the crowd and fired his gun when Foster pointed a rifle at him. Witnesses stated that they did not see Foster raise his weapon. Prosecutors argued that Perry could have driven away without shooting.

Abbott’s rush to throw out the conviction also raised questions about how a governor might try to overturn a jury’s verdict in the future.

After the verdict, but before Perry was sentenced, the court unsealed dozens of pages of text messages and social media posts that showed he had hostile views about the Black Lives Matter protests. In a comment on Facebook a month before the shooting, Perry wrote: “It’s official that I’m a racist because I don’t agree with people acting like animals in the zoo.”

Associated Press reporter Sean Murphy in Oklahoma City contributed.

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