Pardon: Ex-Army Sergeant Released After Killing BLM Protester in Austin

AUSTIN, TEXAS – In a swift turn of events, former Army sergeant Daniel Perry, convicted of killing a Black Lives Matter protester in downtown Austin in 2020, was granted a full pardon by Texas Governor Greg Abbott. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles recommended Perry’s pardon on the murder conviction, leading to his immediate release from prison. Perry, who was 36 at the time of his conviction in April 2023, may also be eligible to have his record expunged, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

The board’s decision to recommend a pardon came after a thorough review of various documents, including police reports, court records, witness statements, and interviews related to the case. Perry had shot and killed Garrett Foster during a racial justice protest in July 2020, with Perry claiming self-defense as Foster was carrying an AK-47 rifle. Prosecutors during Perry’s trial argued that he had actively sought out confrontation.

Following the pardon, Governor Abbott expressed gratitude towards the Board for their investigation and approval of the recommendation. The swift action to pardon Perry came less than 24 hours after his guilty verdict, with Abbott previously stating his intent to grant a pardon if recommended by the Board. Perry’s attorney, Doug O’Connell, lauded the decision as a correction of a past injustice and a step towards justice in the case.

However, the pardon sparked controversy, with Travis County District Attorney José Garza condemning the actions of the parole board and Governor Abbott. Garza criticized their prioritization of politics over justice, leading to what he believes is a mockery of the legal system. Foster’s partner, Whitney Mitchell, expressed disappointment in Abbott’s decision, stating that it devalues the life of the deceased and undermines the jury’s verdict.

Gubernatorial pardons in Texas, particularly for high-profile or controversial cases, have historically been rare instances. Abbott’s decision to pardon Perry deviates from his usual holiday season announcements of pardons or clemency for individuals convicted of nonviolent crimes several years prior. This developing story continues to draw attention and debate as the implications of the pardon are further examined.