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Prosecutor Seeks to Overturn TX Governor’s Pardon of Man Who Claimed Self-Defense in 2020 Protest Shooting

Gov. Greg Abbott at a bill-signing ceremony in June. (Lola Gomez/American-Statesman/TNS)
June 05, 2024

Travis County District Attorney José Garza is seeking to reverse Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to pardon former U.S. soldier Daniel Perry of his murder conviction after Perry fatally shooting an armed protester during a July 2020 Black Lives Matter protest.

Abbott pardoned Perry on May 16, nearly a year after the former soldier was sentenced to 25 years in prison for fatally shooting U.S. Air Force veteran Garrett Foster in a July 25, 2020 confrontation.

Garza’s office announced at Tuesday press conference that they had submitted a writ of mandamus with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, seeking to reverse the gubernatorial pardon.

“Almost three weeks ago, on May 16, the Board of Pardons and Paroles and the governor put their politics over justice and made a mockery of our legal system,” Garza said.

Texas state law does not grant its governor unilateral authority to issue pardons. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles instead has to recommend such a pardon before the governor can issue it.

Garza’s office contends that the board’s pardon decision didn’t follow the correct procedure, and therefore should be reversed.

“When Governor Abbott issued the pardon, not only did he circumvent the process for pardons, he exceeded his authority and violated the separation of powers doctrine,” said Holly Taylor, who leads the DA’s Division of Public Integrity and Complex Crimes.

“The pardon was granted by Governor Abbott, although the codified process to support a finding of innocence was not followed,” Taylor continued. “Further by granting the pardon Governor Abbott violated the separation of powers clause in the Texas Constitution by interfering with a lawful jury verdict and the appellate process. This is why we are asking the highest court in Texas to intervene.”

Perry was out driving on the night of the deadly shooting when he turned onto a street in Austin being blocked by demonstrators protesting against police brutality. Perry turned right from a red light before abruptly stopping as protesters blocked the way. Foster and several other protesters then approached Perry’s car, at which point Perry then shot at Foster and continued driving as the crowds of protesters scattered.

At trial, Perry’s defense team argued he only fired his weapon in lawful self-defense. The defense team contends that on the night of the encounter, as protesters surrounded Perry’s car, Foster began to raise a firearm, an AK-style rifle, at Perry’s car, at which point Perry drew his own handgun and shot Foster. Perry notified police of the shooting within minutes of driving away from the scene.

The Texas pardons board was unanimous in its decision to recommend Perry’s pardon. In issuing his pardon proclamation, Abbott also accused the prosecution of withholding exculpatory evidence that would support Perry’s defense.

This article was originally published by FreeBase News and is reprinted with permission.