Prosecutor asks Texas court to overturn governor’s pardon of man who fatally shot protester

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas pardon of the governor of a former Army sergeant who fatally shot a Black Lives Matter protester undermines the legal system and state constitution and should be overturned, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza said he was filing a request with the Court of Criminal Appeals — the state’s highest criminal court — to review the Republican governor’s pardon. Greg Abbott, who he said made a mockery of the justice system and put politics before justice.

“We will continue to use the legal process to achieve justice,” Garza said at a news conference in Austin.

Daniel Perry shot and killed Garrett Foster During a protest in downtown Austin in July 2020. Perry was sentenced And sentenced to 25 years In prison in May 2023, prompting immediate calls for clemency from conservative figures. Abbott granted clemency last month and Perry was quickly released from prison.

The quick pardon undermined an established appeals process available to Perry and violated the state’s constitutional separation of powers, Garza said.

Abbott’s office did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

The court’s nine elected judges are Republicans. Garza said he believes this case is unique in state history, from the quick request for clemency and its approval to his request for court intervention on appeal.

“This is all new territory,” he said.

Perry’s legal team called the pardon and the process initiated by Abbott “entirely appropriate” under the state constitution and said it was Garza, a Democrat, who was motivated by politics in the prosecution of the case.

The governor, following the recommendation of the state Board of Pardons and Parole, “has absolute authority to pardon a person for any reason, including grounds of actual innocence,” the governor said. Perry’s lawyer, Clint Broden.

Foster’s mother, Sheila Foster, described the pardon as “absolutely unacceptable to our family.”

“We will fight this until justice is served for Garrett,” Foster said at the news conference, his voice shaking with emotion. “My own child was killed on American soil for doing nothing more than exercising his First and Second Amendment rights. And our governor just said, “It’s okay. ” It is acceptable.’

Perry, a white rideshare driver, claimed he was trying to pass the crowd and fired his pistol when Foster pointed a rifle at him. Witnesses said Foster, a white Air Force veteran, never raised his gun. Prosecutors argued that Perry could have left without shooting.

Even though Perry was convicted of murder, Abbott called the shooting self-defense, recalling Texas’ Stand Your Ground law.

Last month, 14 Democratic attorneys general said the U.S. Justice Department should investigate whether Perry denied Foster his right to free speech and peaceful protest. A federal investigation could open Perry to federal charges.

The “DOJ has historically used federal civil rights laws to prosecute acts of hate, particularly when states refuse or fail to hold individuals accountable for violating the civil rights of their fellow Americans,” the coalition said. attorneys general.

Garza said he would pursue all possible actions through the state legal system, but would welcome a federal review of the case.

“People across the country are outraged by what happened to Garrett, what happened to his family,” Garza said. “We are grateful for their request and will echo their request.”

Foster was killed amid widespread protests against police killings and racial injustice that followed. the murder of George Floyd, A black man, by a white Minneapolis police officer.

“Throughout American history, our freedom of speech and the right to peaceful protest have been two of the most powerful tools used to combat injustice and oppression,” the attorney general said last week of Minnesota, Keith Ellison. “Vigilante violence is unacceptable, especially when used to deprive Americans of their lives and their most fundamental freedoms. »

Abbott’s rush to expunge the conviction also raised questions about how a governor might try to overturn a jury’s verdict in the future.

After the verdict but before Perry was sentenced, the court Dozens of unsealed pages of text messages and hostile social media posts showing he had opinions on the Black Lives Matter protests. In a Facebook comment a month before the shooting, Perry wrote: “It’s official, I’m racist because I don’t agree with people acting like animals at the zoo.” »


Associated Press reporter Sean Murphy in Oklahoma City contributed.

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