U.S. Army Sergeant Daniel Perry of Texas was found guilty of murder Friday nearly three years after he fatally shot a protester during an anti-police brutality demonstration in Austin.
Perry, 33, was indicted in 2021 on charges of murder, aggravated assault and deadly conduct after he killed 28-year-old Garrett Foster, on July 25, 2020. The Army sergeant was driving for Uber in downtown Austin when he stopped his vehicle and honked at people protesting police violence while they walked through the street, police said.
According to police, Perry drove his car into the crowd, where Foster had been seen openly carrying an AK-47 rifle, which is legal in the state of Texas. There are conflicting eyewitness reports regarding which man raised their firearm first at the other, but Perry, who was also legally armed at the time, shot and killed Foster, then fled the scene.
Following the shooting, Perry called police and told them that he had shot Foster but said he did so out of self-defense. Under the Texas “stand your ground” law, an individual is allowed to use deadly force to defend themselves against unlawful deadly force from an assailant if the individual did not provoke the incident.
Perry’s conviction has been blasted by gun-rights advocates, who argue that the shooting was justified under state laws regarding self-defense. Texas Representative Ronny Jackson pointed a finger at Governor Greg Abbott to pardon Perry “immediately” in light of the conviction.
“Governor Abbott, don’t let a Soros-owned Austin liberal DA destroy our justice system in Texas,” Jackson tweeted Friday evening. “You need to PARDON Daniel Perry IMMEDIATELY!”
Abbott, a Republican, is a staunch supporter of gun rights and has previously said that the “right to self-defense is enshrouded in the United States Constitution in the Second Amendment,” according to a report from KWTX in Waco, Texas.
Robby Starbuck, former Tennessee congressional candidate and prominent conservative figure, also called upon Abbott to pardon Perry, writing on Twitter, “This is NOT justice. This is criminal. #FreeDanielPerry.”
“If Abbott doesn’t have the power to pardon, call a special session ASAP over it,” Starbuck said in a following tweet. “You CANNOT let a Soros prosecutor run your state and jail innocent people in sham trials filled with biased juries. Pretend this was your son and move heaven + earth to act.”
Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot and killed two men in 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and was later acquitted, also took to Twitter, writing that Perry’s conviction was “very disappointing,” adding that his “thoughts are with Mr. Perry and his family.”
In a separate tweet, Rittenhouse tagged Abbott’s Twitter account, writing, “this is an unfair conviction please step in and free Daniel Perry.”
According to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, Abbott can grant clemency after a conviction “upon the written recommendation of a majority of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.” Petitions for clemency can be sent to the board by registered attorneys that are licensed in the state of Texas.
There were questions raised during the trial regarding Perry’s mindset at the time of the shooting and if it was truly out of self-defense due to tweets he made about retaliating against protesters, The Texas Tribune previously reported.
In one such instance, Perry responded to a tweet from former President Donald Trump in June 2020, in which Trump stated that “protestors, anarchists, agitators, looters or lowlifes,” protesting in Oklahoma would face “a much different scene” than protesters in New York or Minneapolis. Perry responded from a now-deleted Twitter account, “Send them to Texas we will show them why we don’t mess with Texas.”
The Austin American-Statesman reported that a sentence hearing for Perry might occur as early as Tuesday. Murder convictions in Texas can carry prison terms from five years to life.
The jury found Perry not guilty on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after 17 hours of deliberation on Thursday and Friday, the Tribune reported.
Newsweek has reached out to Abbott’s communications team via email for comment.