Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is looking to pardon a U.S. Army sergeant convicted of murder for the fatal shooting of a protester during a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Austin in 2020.
In a Twitter post, Abbott said, "Texas has one of the strongest 'Stand Your Ground' laws of self-defense that cannot be nullified by a jury or a progressive District Attorney." He added he plans to approve the pardon "as soon as it hits my desk."
I am working as swiftly as Texas law allows regarding the pardon of Sgt. Perry. pic.twitter.com/HydwdzneMU— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) April 8, 2023
Sgt. Daniel Perry was stationed at Ft. Hood about 70 miles north of Austin in July 2020 and was working for a ride-sharing company. While driving, he turned onto a street downtown and into a large crowd of demonstrators. Garrett Foster, who legally owned and was carrying an AR-15 style rifle, was in that crowd.
In video streamed live on Facebook, a car can be heard honking before several shots ring out, and protesters begin screaming and scattering.
Perry claims he fired in self-defense after Foster raised his rifle, but a Texas jury didn't buy it, convicting Perry of murder. Perry faces up to life in prison.
In a statement, Travis County District Attorney José Garza called the governor's announcement "deeply troubling" and said, "In our legal system, a jury gets to decide whether a defendant is guilty or innocent — not the governor."
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton appeared on "Fox and Friends" to defend the governor's announcement, saying, "Any crime [Garza] doesn't like, he nullifies, and then he maliciously prosecutes people he doesn't like for political purposes."
Paxton and Abbott have called for the Republican-controlled Texas legislature to rein in what they call "rogue prosecutors." The Texas Senate has already passed a law that would give district judges the power to remove duly elected prosecutors for "official misconduct."
While the governor has expressed his plans for a pardon, he can't pardon Perry on his own.
In Texas, the state Board of Pardons and Paroles must recommend an inmate be pardoned before the governor can approve it, but Abbott has requested an expedited review of this case. The members of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles are appointed by the Texas governor.