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Don't pardon Daniel Perry
Politics shouldn't determine whether the Texas BLM murderer goes free
Texas Governor Gregg Abbott wants to issue a pardon for Daniel Perry. Under Texas law, the governor can’t do this on his own, however. He has to get approval from the state’s Board of Pardons and Paroles. The board should not give its assent.
The case goes back to the BLM protests of 2020 when marchers were rallying in the streets of Austin. A video from July 25, 2020, shows peaceful (not evenly mostly peaceful, this was a totally peaceful scene) demonstrators. A car horn honks and seconds later, five shots are fired.
It is difficult to tell what happened from the video, but witnesses say that Daniel Perry, then a 30-year-old US Army sergeant moonlighting as an Uber driver, ran a red light and drove into the crowd of protesters. At this point, Garrett Foster, a 28-year-old Air Force veteran, walked toward Perry’s car. Foster was legally open-carrying an AK-47 and as he approached, Perry opened fire with a pistol, killing him. Both Perry and Foster are white. After the shooting, Perry drove away and called the police.
Perry claimed self-defense in the shooting, but his story has not withstood scrutiny. The video shows that the crowd was not swarming the car and witnesses contradict Perry’s claim that Foster had pointed the AK-47 at the car.
In fact, Perry’s interview with police contradicts his own claim of self-defense. Perry told a homicide detective on the night of the shooting, "I believe he was going to aim at me. I didn’t want to give him a chance to aim at me."
These words are damning to the claim of self-defense. If Foster was not aiming at Perry, then Perry fired preemptively at a man peacefully exercising his right to open carry. That is not a reasonable response. That makes it murder.
Perry’s self-defense claim was already on shaky ground even before this admission. In Texas, the burden is on the defendant to prove that he acted in self-defense and the video and eyewitness testimony undercut Perry’s claim. Much has been made of the “stand your ground” law, but Texas law requires a “reasonable” belief that “force was immediately necessary” and states that the defense is not available if the defendant “provoke[d] the person against whom the force was used.” Both of those caveats are problems for Perry.
Perry’s social media history is also a problem. Prosecutors showed the jury a series of troubling social media posts that Perry had made shortly before the shooting. The postings included both public and private messages along with internet search histories that showed that Perry had looked up the location of local protests.
In one Facebook message on May 31, Perry had written, “I might have to kill a few people on my way to work they are rioting outside my apartment complex.” In another conversation a few weeks later, he wrote, “Make sure you only use one shot on the protestors so if they try you have enough. I’ll only shoot the ones in the front and push the pedal to the metal.”
While the posts aren’t an admission of guilt, they do indicate that Perry might have gone looking for trouble. The second posting is eerily similar to what actually transpired, and together with the video, witnesses, and testimony from forensic experts was enough to convince the jury that Perry murdered Foster.
Some might be tempted to compare the Perry case to Kyle Rittenhouse in Wisconsin. The Perry case is different from the Kyle Rittenhouse case in at least one important respect though. Even though both seem to have been self-styled vigilantes who knowingly went into harm’s way, Rittenhouse was able to plausibly claim to a jury that he feared for his life. That claim was supported by pictures and videos from the night of Ritttenhouse’s killings. Rittenhouse also benefitted from poorly written Wisconsin gun laws. The video tells the opposite story for Perry.
America is getting a lesson on the public carriage of weapons and the laws that govern the practice, but if you choose to exercise the right to carry in public, you should learn the laws before you venture out into the streets. Knowing the laws is just as important as being proficient with your weapon. You may not be interested in the finer points of the law, but if you legally carry and shoot someone, your freedom may depend on the exact details of your actions.
This incident is also a good argument against open carry. I have a concealed carry permit (although it isn’t necessary in Georgia anymore), but I have long argued that open carry is a bad idea for most people. I wouldn’t characterize myself as a gun nut, but I do have some training in properly carrying a weapon from my days as a Federal Flight Deck Officer at the airlines. Two things that our instructors stressed were situational awareness and weapon retention. I can guarantee you that most people who open carry do not give these much thought at all.
If you openly carry a gun, you will intimidate some people. What people don’t consider is that you also make yourself a target. This is what happened to Garrett Foster, but he isn’t the first person to be targeted because he carried a gun. In fact, Justice Department statistics show that about 10 percent of police officers who die from gunshots are killed by their own guns. And these are people professionally trained to retain their weapons, not someone who spontaneously decided to strap on a pistol to go to Walmart.
If I could give one piece of advice to people who engage in public protests, it would be to not carry a gun. A gun sharply raises the potential for a violent confrontation. If you think you’ll need a gun, maybe the better choice is to not go. If you must carry a gun, however, I’d recommend that you conceal it and be very proficient in both the law and your gun’s use.
Daniel Perry was only convicted on April 7. He has yet to spend a week in jail and the governor is already talking about a pardon. My plea to the state parole board is, “Don’t do it.”
While I am concerned about the rising tide of political violence in this country and don’t want to see it normalized, politics should have nothing to do with whether Perry stays in jail. We should focus on the evidence of the case.
Perry was found guilty by a jury of his peers who listened to all the evidence, not just the stuff that Tucker Carlson saw fit to air. That evidence suggests that he shot and killed an innocent man who was no threat. For that, he needs to stay in jail.
If you enjoyed my occasional Tweet of the Day feature, I’ve suspended it because Substack and Twitter no longer talk to each other. There seem to be a lot of problems with Twitter plug-ins at various sites and platforms these days. This seems to be on purpose in at least some cases. I may resume the feature later once the problems are resolved.
And if you didn’t enjoy the Tweet of the Day, who asked you?
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