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Daniel Perry, whom Gov. Abbott wants to pardon, has a history of racist social media comments

The booking photo of U.S. Army Sgt. Daniel Perry.
Austin Police Department
The booking photo of Daniel Perry, who was convicted of murder for fatally shooting an armed protester during a 2020 Black Lives Matter protest in Austin.

Warning: This story contains offensive language.

A Travis County judge unsealed court documents Thursday that reveal Army Sgt. Daniel Perry made racist social media posts leading up to and after the night he shot and killed Garrett Foster, a 28-year-old Black Lives Matter protester, in Austin.

Gov. Greg Abbott has asked the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to recommend a pardon for Perry, after a jury found him guilty of murder a week ago. The board has not made a decision yet in response to the governor's request.

Foster, who was an Air Force veteran, was killed in July 2020, when Perry, who was working for a ride-share company, drove into a downtown Austin street crowded with protesters. He shot Foster repeatedly with a revolver. Foster was also armed with a gun, an AK-47. Both men were carrying the firearms legally.

During Perry's trial, Travis County District Attorney José Garza presented a 76-page document that showed Perry had a history of making racist and aggressive remarks on social media.

According to the document, on May 31, 2020, Perry had an exchange with Facebook user Justin Smith on Messenger.

During that conversation, Perry said, “I might have to kill a few people on my way to work they are rioting outside my apartment complex.” After a few more exchanges, Smith asked Perry, “Can you catch me a negro daddy,” to which Perry replied, “That is what I am hoping.”

A meme with an unknown date and time in Perry’s cellphone had text that read: “Me: 'white people can’t dance lol, White People: 'Okay but if I call you a cotton picking n----- then I’m the racist one right? Racism works both ways, pull your pants up if you don’t want cops killing you.”

In June 2020, Perry shared a message on Facebook about a BLM protester failing a sobriety test after attacking a police officer. Part of the message read: “So why wouldn’t the officer defend himself. Just because he is black they are rioting the burned down Wendy’s then fired the police officer for defending him self. I once again say f--- BLM.”

In early July 2020, before Foster was killed, Perry shared a meme on Facebook that said BLM activists called Abraham Lincoln racist. When he shared the image, Perry said, “This is why I do not support black lives movement and believe they are acting like savage animals. It is also sad I now I have to say to include the white people in the BLM group.”

In an email to KUT, Perry’s lawyer, F. Clint Broden, called the release of the social media posts political.

The Travis County District Attorney’s Office told KUT the judge presiding over the case ordered the materials be released ahead of Perry's sentencing.

“Such orders are common in any criminal trial because the rules of evidence that apply when determining the appropriate sentence for a defendant are different from the rules that apply when a jury is determining a defendant’s innocence or guilt," the office said in a statement.

Perry's sentencing date has not yet been set. His lawyers have filed a request for a new trial.

Haya Panjwani is a general assignment reporter, with a focus on Travis County. Got a tip? Email her at hpanjwani@kut.org. Follow her on Twitter @hayapanjw.
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