Daniel Perry: Texas pardons US soldier who shot Black Lives Matter protester

Daniel Perry appearing in court before he was found guilty of murder by a jury in April
Daniel Perry maintained he acted in self-defence [Reuters]

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has pardoned a man convicted of killing a Black Lives Matter protester in 2020.

Daniel Perry, an ex-US Army sergeant, was moonlighting as an Uber driver in Austin when he turned on to a street where demonstrators were marching.

Garrett Foster, one of the protesters, approached the vehicle carrying a rifle. Perry shot him dead.

Perry said he acted in self-defence, but he was convicted by a jury and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Foster, 28, a former US Air Force mechanic, was openly carrying an AK-47 semi-automatic assault rifle - something that is legal under Texas law - at the time of the confrontation on 25 July 2020. He was white, as is Perry.

Perry, now 37, had no passenger in his taxi and said some of the demonstrators, who had gathered in the wake of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, began banging on his car. The protesters said they feared the vehicle might ram them.

During the trial, Perry's lawyers argued that Foster raised his rifle, a claim that some witnesses disputed. Perry lowered his window and shot Foster five times with a .357 revolver before driving off. He called 911 shortly afterwards.

The case became a rallying point for conservatives and Governor Abbott previously said he would pardon Perry as soon as he received an official request. Perry was convicted of murder in April 2023.

In announcing the pardon on Thursday, the Republican governor said that the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles had conducted an "exhaustive review" of the case and Perry's personal history.

"Texas has one of the strongest 'Stand Your Ground' laws of self-defence that cannot be nullified by a jury or a progressive District Attorney," Governor Abbott said in a statement, referring to Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza, a Democrat.

"Stand your ground" laws generally permit an individual to use force, including deadly, against someone if they believe that person is about to commit murder or other serious crimes.

In a statement Mr Garza said: "The Board and the Governor have put their politics over justice and made a mockery of our legal system. They should be ashamed of themselves."

A person lays down a candle at a vigil for Garrett Foster the day after the shooting
A person lays down a candle at a vigil for Garrett Foster the day after the shooting [Getty Images]

According to court documents, Perry began searching for the locations of Black Lives Matter protests weeks before the shooting and messaged friends on social media, comparing protesters to "a bunch of monkeys flinging [expletive] at a zoo".

In May 2020, shortly after Floyd's death, he sent a text message saying: "I might go to Dallas to shoot looters."

He also sent messages about "hunting Muslims" and about killing a daughter if she had a crush on "a little negro boy".