Daniel Perry trial: Gov. Abbott issues full pardon, restoration of civil rights

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has issued a full pardon for U.S. Army Sergeant Daniel Perry, who was convicted last year of murder for shooting and killing a Black Lives Matter protester in downtown Austin.

This comes right after the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles recommended a full pardon for Perry following a unanimous vote.

"The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles conducted an exhaustive review of U.S. Army Sergeant Daniel Perry’s personal history and the facts surrounding the July 2020 incident and recommended a Full Pardon and Restoration of Full Civil Rights of Citizenship," said Abbott in a statement. "Among the voluminous files reviewed by the Board, they considered information provided by the Travis County District Attorney, the full investigative report on Daniel Perry, plus a review of all the testimony provided at trial. 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. I thank the Board for its thorough investigation, and I approve their pardon recommendation."

Read the full proclamation here.

Perry was convicted of murder in April 2023 in the July 2020 death of Black Lives Matter protestor and Air Force veteran Garrett Foster. He was then sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Perry's attorney filed a motion for a retrial in April 2023, alleging in court documents that key evidence was kept from jurors and jury misconduct. That motion was rejected in May 2023.

Shortly after his conviction but before his sentencing, Abbott called on the board to review Perry's case so he could approve it.


The Board says its members "delved into the intricacies of Perry's case" and conducted a "meticulous review of pertinent documents, from police reports to court records, witness statements, and interviews with individuals linked to the case".

After examining the information, the Board voted unanimously on May 16 to recommend a full pardon and restoration of firearm rights for Sgt. Perry. That recommendation has since been conveyed to Gov. Abbott.

Travis County District Attorney José Garza released the following statement on the decision to pardon Perry:

"The Board and the Governor have put their politics over justice and made a mockery of our legal system. They should be ashamed of themselves. Their actions are contrary to the law and demonstrate that there are two classes of people in this state where some lives matter and some lives do not. They have sent a message to Garrett Foster’s family, to his partner, and to our community that his life does not matter. They have sent the message that the service of the Travis County community members who served on the grand jury and trial jury does not matter. To the family and friends of Garrett Foster, and to the people of Travis County, we will not stop fighting for justice."

Whitney Mitchell, Foster's fiancée, also issued a statement through her attorney's office about the pardon:

"I loved Garrett Foster. I thought we were going to grow old together. He was the love of my life. He still is. I am heartbroken by this lawlessness. Governor Abbott has shown that, to him, only certain lives matter. He has made us all less safe. 

"Daniel Perry texted his friends about plans to murder a protester he disagreed with. After a lengthy trial, with an abundance of evidence, 12 impartial Texans determined that he carried out that plan, and murdered my Garrett. With this pardon, the Governor has desecrated the life of a murdered Texan and US Air Force veteran, and impugned that jury’s just verdict. He has declared that Texans who hold political views that are different from his - and different from those in power - can be killed in this State with impunity."

Perry's attorney, Doug O'Connell, issued the following statement on behalf of Perry:

"On behalf of Daniel Perry, we would like to thank Governor Abbott for his decisive action granting Daniel a full pardon and restoring all his civil rights. We would also like to extend our thanks to the members of the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole. They conducted a very thorough investigation over many months. All the interested parties and many of the witnesses were interviewed by the board. They took the time needed to get to the truth behind what really happened when Mr. Foster illegally threatened Daniel with a fully loaded AK-47 rifle on Congress Avenue in downtown Austin, Texas. They also investigated the facts surrounding the Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza tampering with Grand Jury witnesses during this case. Ultimately, the Board unanimously voted to recommend a full pardon to Daniel.

"Daniel Perry was imprisoned for 372 days and lost the military career that he loved. The action by Governor Abbott and the Pardon Board corrects the courtroom travesty which occurred over a year ago and represents true justice in this case. We intend to fight to get Daniel’s military service characterization upgraded to an Honorable Discharge.

"I spoke with Daniel this afternoon. He is thrilled and elated to be free. Daniel is also optimistic for his future. He wishes that this tragic event never happened and wishes he never had to defend himself against Mr. Foster’s unlawful actions. At the same time, Daniel recognizes that the Foster family is grieving.

"We are anxious to see Daniel reunited with his family and loved ones."