AGs demand DOJ investigation into killing of BLM protester

AGs demand DOJ investigation into killing of BLM protester

AUSTIN, Texas – New York Attorney General Letitia James and 13 other state attorneys general are demanding a federal investigation into the killing of a Black Lives Matter protester in Austin after the shooter was pardoned by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

What you need to know

  • A coalition of state attorneys general sent a letter to the Department of Justice requesting a civil rights criminal investigation into the death of Garrett Foster by Daniel Perry
  • Foster was attending a BLM protest in Austin when Perry drove through the demonstration, shot and killed him. Perry claims Foster, who was legally carrying an AK-47 rifle, pointed the gun at him, prompting him to fire
  • In April 2023, Perry was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 25 years in prison. He was later pardoned by Abbott, who found that Perry was justified in shooting Foster under the state’s “Stand Your Ground” laws.
  • James and the coalition argue that it is the Justice Department’s job to ensure that “justice is served” when “states fail to protect their residents from such violations of our civil rights.”

In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, the coalition called on the Justice Department to launch a civil rights investigation into the July 2020 shooting of Air Force veteran Garrett Foster by former Sgt. US Army. Daniel Perry, found guilty of murder in April 2023.

Foster was participating in a Black Lives Matter protest in Austin following the May 2020 murder of George Floyd by a Minnesota police officer – which sparked a nationwide protest movement – when he was shot and killed by Perry.

Perry was sentenced to 25 years in prison, but received a full pardon from Abbott a year later. The Texas governor argued that Perry’s actions were justified by the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which the coalition calls “an extremely broad justification for criminal conduct in self-defense,” according to a press release issued by James’ office.

Perry’s lawyers argued he was acting in self-defense and called the case a “political prosecution.” Perry claims he was trying to drive past the demonstration when he fired his gun after Foster pointed an AK-47 rifle at him.

Foster was legally carrying the rifle, but witnesses testified that they did not see him raise the weapon.

After his sentencing, a Travis County judge unveiled documents showing Perry had a history of making racist and anti-protester comments on social media, such as comparing protesters to zoo animals and saying he would “shoot looters.”

James and the coalition are specifically asking the Justice Department to investigate whether Perry violated federal criminal civil rights laws when he shot Foster.

“Garrett Foster exercised his constitutional right to protest when he was murdered by Daniel Perry,” James said in the release. “The facts of this case were brazen, as was the reality that the state so blatantly tolerated hateful and murderous conduct. When states fail to protect their residents from such violations of our civil rights, it is imperative that the Department of Justice steps in and ensures justice is served. We call on the Department of Justice to investigate this incident and demonstrate that it will not be tolerated in America.”

In addition to James, the other 13 attorneys general who signed the letter are from Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont and the District of Columbia.