A grand jury in Travis County, Texas, indicted an active duty Army sergeant for murder on Thursday after he killed a protester at an Austin, Texas, Black Lives Matter demonstration last year, sparking a national debate over protestor safety.
An attendee kneels at a memorial at a vigil for Garrett Foster on July 26, 2020 in downtown Austin, … [+] Texas. (Photo by Sergio Flores/Getty Images)
Sgt. Daniel Perry has been charged with murder, aggravated assault and deadly conduct for killing Air Force veteran and activist Garrett Foster on July 25, 2020, an act Perry claims was in self-defense.
Perry turned himself into the Travis County jail on Thursday afternoon and left custody 15 minutes later after posting his $300,000 bail, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
Perry was driving for Uber the night of July 25 when he turned down a street and encountered the protesters in downtown Austin, at which point protesters allegedly moved toward the car.
According to police, Perry then fired five shots from his vehicle, killing Foster.
Foster was openly carrying an AK-47 — which is legal under Texas law — at the time of the killing.
A major point of contention in the case is whether Foster raised his weapon before Perry opened fire — a claim Perry’s attorney is making.
“Sgt. Perry again simply asks that anybody who might want to engage in a hindsight review of this incident picture themselves trapped in a car as a masked stranger raises an AK-47 in their direction and reflect upon what they might have done,” Perry’s lawyer, Clint Broden, said in a statement provided to the Austin American-Statesman.
Protests calling for racial equity and police reform sprung up across the U.S. after George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer on May 25. While protests were mostly peaceful, many were marred by images of cars ramming into demonstrators, which in some cases resulted in deaths. That’s led to national outrage and debate over what protections should be granted to peaceful protesters who block traffic, and similarly to drivers who encounter them. The response from Republican-led legislatures in 2021 has largely been to pass bills designed to protect the rights of drivers in many situations — not the demonstrators. States like Florida, Oklahoma and Iowa enacted new laws this year largely shielding drivers who hit protesters from civil liability.
Army sergeant indicted on murder charge in shooting death of Austin protester Garrett Foster (Austin American-Statesman)