By Rich McKay
(Reuters) - Texas Governor Greg Abbott said on Saturday he is seeking the pardon of an Uber driver convicted of murder just a day earlier in the July 2020 shooting death of a man at a Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Austin, the state capital.
Abbott, in a post on Twitter, said he will pardon Daniel Perry, 37, who is also a U.S. Army sergeant, as soon as a request from the parole board "hits my desk."
Abbott, a Republican, noted that the governor can grant pardons only on the recommendation of the state's Board of Pardons and Paroles, but that he is allowed to request pardons.
The case hinged on whether the shooting was in self-defense. A jury found on Friday that Perry, who is white, shot and killed Garrett Foster, a 28-year-old Black man, who was carrying an AK-47, according to the Austin American-Statesman newspaper.
Perry was driving in the city the night of the shooting and turned his Uber vehicle onto a street where a Black Lives Matter crowd was marching, according to media. Perry stopped and several protesters including Foster approached his vehicle. Protesters told police that they feared they were being assaulted with the vehicle, according to media accounts.
Perry's defense team claimed the weapon was leveled at him and he had no choice but to fire his pistol in self defense, the newspaper reported. Neither of Perry's attorneys was immediately available to Reuters by phone or email for comment.
Perry was convicted of murder after the jury deliberated for 17 hours in the eight-day trial, according to media accounts.
“I will work as swiftly as Texas law allows regarding the pardon of Sgt. Perry,” Abbott wrote on Twitter.
“Texas has one of the strongest ‘Stand your ground’ laws of self-defense that cannot be nullified by a jury or progressive district attorney," he said. "Additionally, I have already prioritized reining in rogue District Attorneys, and the Texas Legislature is working on laws to achieve that goal."
Jose Garza, the district attorney for Travis County, where the case was tried and where Austin is located, is a Democrat, and has been in office since Jan. 1, 2021.
Perry faces life in prison and is due to be sentenced by State District Court Judge Clifford Brown on Tuesday, according to online court records for the 147th District Court in Travis County, Texas.
(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Leslie Adler)