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Texas Governor Extends Pardon To Former US Army Sergeant Involved In Controversial Shooting Incident

Texas Governor Extends Pardon To Former US Army Sergeant Involved In Controversial Shooting Incident

In a recent development, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has granted a full pardon to Daniel Perry, a former US Army sergeant, who was convicted of murder for his involvement in a shooting incident during the nationwide protests against police violence and racial injustice in 2020.

The decision to pardon Perry came shortly after the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles unanimously recommended his pardon and the restoration of his firearms rights.

Perry, who had been serving a 25-year sentence in state prison since his conviction in 2023 for the killing of Garrett Foster, was released following the issuance of the pardon.

The incident occurred when Perry, a white ride-share driver, found himself amidst a demonstration in Austin. Prosecutors argued that Perry had the opportunity to drive away from the confrontation with Foster, a white Air Force veteran who, according to witnesses, never raised his firearm.

While a jury had previously convicted Perry of murder, Governor Abbott contended that the case fell under the realm of self-defense, highlighting Texas’ robust “Stand Your Ground” laws.

Abbott emphasized that such self-defense laws are protected by the state and cannot be overridden by either a jury or a progressive district attorney.

Governor Abbott, a Republican serving his third term, has traditionally issued pardons for minor offenses, and notably refrained from recommending a posthumous pardon for George Floyd in relation to a 2004 drug arrest in Houston.

George Floyd’s tragic death

It is worth mentioning that George Floyd’s tragic death at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis in 2020 had sparked nationwide demonstrations.

Shortly after Perry’s trial, Abbott directed the Board to review his case, stating that he would grant a pardon if recommended. According to Texas law, the governor is unable to issue a pardon without the board’s recommendation, with the members of the board being appointed by the governor himself.

The pardon has drawn strong criticism from Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza, who described it as a “mockery of our legal system.” Garza accused the board and the governor of prioritizing political motivations over justice, expressing disappointment and asserting that their actions undermine the principles of equality before the law.

It is noteworthy that Abbott’s decision to review Perry’s case was influenced by pressure from Tucker Carlson, a former Fox News star, who publicly urged the governor to intervene following Perry’s conviction in April 2023.

Perry’s defense attorneys maintained that he acted in self-defense when faced with an agitated crowd and an individual carrying an assault rifle. Clint Broden, Perry’s attorney, expressed gratitude towards the Board of Pardons and Paroles for their thorough examination of the case and emphasized Texas’ strong laws that empower citizens to protect themselves.

While the tragic events surrounding Garrett Foster’s death have always been disheartening, it is important to acknowledge that differing perspectives exist regarding the circumstances.

Foster’s girlfriend, Whitney Mitchell, criticized the pardon as an act of “lawlessness,” asserting that it desecrates the life of a murdered Texan and veteran and undermines the just verdict reached by the jury.

Perry’s shooting incident was an act of self-defense

Mitchell further argued that the governor’s actions imply that individuals with dissenting political views can be killed with impunity in the state.

The shooting incident involving Perry sparked intense debate in 2020 amidst the demonstrations inspired by George Floyd’s untimely demise. Perry’s conviction three years later prompted outrage from prominent conservatives.

Notably, Carlson used his platform to advocate for Perry’s cause, characterizing the shooting as an act of self-defense and criticizing Governor Abbott for his absence on his show. Subsequently, Abbott expressed his belief that Perry should not face punishment and directed the parole board to expedite the review process.

Before Perry’s sentencing, numerous text messages and social media posts were unsealed, revealing his hostile views towards Black Lives Matter protests.

In a Facebook comment made a month prior to the shooting, Perry wrote, “It is official, I am a racist because I do not agree with people acting like animals at the zoo.” During the trial, a forensic psychologist testified that Perry suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder due to his deployment to Afghanistan and childhood bullying.

At the time of the incident, Perry was stationed at Fort Cavazos, later relocated to Fort Hood, approximately 110 kilometers north of Austin.

The pardon extended to Daniel Perry by Governor Abbott has sparked both support and criticism, reflecting the deep divisions surrounding the case.

As Texas grapples with the aftermath of this decision, it remains to be seen how it will impact the ongoing conversation regarding self-defense laws, racial justice, and the accountability of individuals involved in contentious incidents

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