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Governor Abbott pardons Daniel Perry for fatal 2020 Black Lives Matter shooting after pardons committee recommendation


Daniel Perry, a former US Army sergeant who was convicted of killing a protester during a Black Lives Matter rally in 2020, was released from prison on Thursday after being pardoned by Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

Abbott’s decision comes after the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted unanimously Thursday to recommend a full pardon and restoration of gun rights for Perry, who was sentenced last year last to 25 years in prison. Shortly after being pardoned, Perry was released from Texas Department of Criminal Justice custody, an agency spokesperson told CNN.

Abbott asked the commission to conduct an investigation in April 2023, and in a statement released Thursday, the commission said its “investigative efforts included a meticulous review of relevant documents, from police reports to court records and more.” through witness statements and interviews with individuals connected to the case.”

Perry faced between five and 99 years in prison for fatally shooting Garrett Foster, a 28-year-old Air Force veteran, during a racial justice rally in Austin, Texas, two months after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Shortly after Perry’s conviction in April 2023, Abbott said he wanted to pardon Perry and made an unusual request to the state Board of Pardons and Paroles to expedite review of the pardon. case before a sentence is imposed.

“Among the voluminous records reviewed by the Commission, they reviewed information provided by the Travis County Prosecutor, the full investigative report on Daniel Perry, as well as a review of all testimony provided at trial,” said Abbott in a statement.

“Texas has one of the strictest “Stand Your Ground” self-defense laws that cannot be overturned by a jury or a progressive district attorney. I thank the Commission for its thorough investigation and agree with its recommendation for clemency,” Abbott said.

The governor can only pardon Perry if the Board of Pardons and Parole recommends it, according to Texas law.

Doug O’Connell, an attorney for Perry, said in a statement that his client was “thrilled” to be free and thanked Abbott and the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole.

“I spoke with Daniel this afternoon. He is thrilled and excited to be free. Daniel is also optimistic about his future,” O’Connell said in a statement obtained by CNN. “He wishes this tragic event never happened and wishes he never had to defend himself against Mr. Foster’s illegal actions.” At the same time, Daniel recognizes that the Foster family is grieving. We can’t wait to see Daniel reunite with his family and loved ones.

Prosecutors said Perry, who was stationed at Fort Hood, started the deadly confrontation when he ran a red light and drove his vehicle into a crowd gathered at the protest. Foster was openly carrying an assault rifle — legal in Texas — and approached Perry’s car and motioned for him to roll down his window, after which Perry shot him with a handgun, prosecutors said .

“Today, a convicted murderer will walk the streets of Texas. Texas Republicans have proven once again that they cannot keep the public safe, that they are not the party of “tough on crime” and that they are not the party of ” law and order,” Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said in a statement responding to the pardon.

He added: “Make no mistake: Daniel Perry is a murderer who was on a mission to commit violence against Texans, and today our justice system has been hijacked for political purposes. »

In a statement released Thursday, Foster’s former fiancée, Whitney Mitchell, said she was “heartbroken by this lawlessness,” adding that Abbott had shown that “only some lives matter.”

“He made us all less safe. Daniel Perry was texting his friends about his plan to murder a protester he disagreed with,” she said. “After a lengthy trial, with an abundance of evidence, 12 impartial Texans determined that he carried out this plan and murdered the love of my life.”

“With this pardon, the governor desecrated the life of a murdered Texan, challenged the just verdict of the jury, and declared that citizens can be killed with impunity as long as they hold political views different from those at power,” Mitchell said.

At Perry’s sentencing hearing last May, the prosecution asked that he be sentenced to at least 25 years in prison. They pointed to a stream of racist and inflammatory social media posts that Perry had written before the shooting as well as the defense’s own analysis of his mental disorder and state of mind.

“This man is a loaded gun, ready to attack any perceived threat he feels he faces in his black and white world and us-versus-them mentality,” a prosecutor said.

Perry’s defense team asked for a 10-year prison sentence, citing his lack of criminal history, psychological problems including complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and praise from several of his military colleagues.

They argued his actions were justified as self-defense. Perry told police in an interview that he thought Foster was going to point the gun at him, according to CNN affiliate KEYE.

Foster’s mother, Sheila Foster, was “in shock” after learning of Abbott’s pardon, according to Quentin Brogdon, the family’s former attorney who spoke with the mother Thursday.

“To say she’s devastated is an understatement,” Brogdon told CNN in a telephone interview.

The family had filed a civil suit against Perry but dropped the case after his conviction last year, satisfied that the jury “held him accountable,” Brogdon said, adding that the family would consider all possible legal avenues , but that the outlook was “bleak”. »

“It’s hard to believe that there isn’t some political motivation in granting this pardon,” Brogdon said, citing Abbott’s involvement in the case after conservative commentators criticized Perry’s conviction. last year.

02:57 – Source: CNN

Family of slain BLM protester reacts to Texas governor’s plans to pardon man responsible

Perry was diagnosed with complex PTSD and autism

For the defense, Greg Hupp, a forensic psychologist who examined Perry twice in 2023, said at his sentencing that he diagnosed him with complex post-traumatic stress disorder and autism spectrum disorder.

Combined with his military experience, Perry had an “us versus them” mentality in which his mindset was, “I’m protecting myself.” I am prepared for any imminent attack and anything that exists may pose a potential threat,” Hupp said.

During cross-examination, the prosecution noted that military records indicated no such psychological problems.

At Perry’s sentencing, Mitchell tearfully testified about how much his life had changed since his death.

Mitchell is a quadruple amputee and said Foster was her sole caregiver for the past 11 years, helping her get ready for the day, eating and working as a costume designer. They had bought a house together in Austin and she said it was difficult to stay there without him.

“It’s hard every day I’m here. It’s hard to sleep in my bed because he’s not there,” she said. “He was my primary caregiver for 11 years and I had friends who took care of me and had to learn to do everything Garrett did for me for a decade, and it’s hard because I had to get comfortable being vulnerable.

Documents related to the case that were unsealed by a Travis County judge after Perry’s conviction show that he had a years-long history of making racist comments in messages and social media posts.

In a May 2020 Facebook post, just weeks before the shooting, Perry told a friend that he “might have to kill a few people” who were protesting outside his apartment. The documents also contain a text sent by Perry in May 2020 that said: “I might go to Dallas to shoot looters. » Some posts included “white power” memes.

Perry wrote in a 2019 post that it was “too bad we can’t get paid to kick out Muslims in Europe.”

In a June 1, 2020 comment on social media, Perry compared the Black Lives Matter movement to “a zoo full of monkeys that are freaking out and throwing their shit,” according to the documents.

Clint Broden, Perry’s attorney, criticized the release of the documents in a statement to CNN, calling it a political move by prosecutors.

CNN’s Eric Levenson, Lucy Kafanov, Joe Sutton and Nouran Salahieh contributed to this report.

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News Source : amp.cnn.com

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