A 34-year-old infantryman from Dallas, Texas, and stationed at Fort Wainwright for the last 10 months is facing a murder charge in connection with the shooting death of a Black Lives Matter demonstrator in downtown Austin last summer.
Sgt. Daniel Perry, who joined the U.S. Army in 2012 and served in Afghanistan that same year, says it was self-defense after 29-year-old Garrett Foster pointed a weapon at him while other protesters beat on his car, damaging it. Perry was moonlighting as a driver for a ridesharing company and was unaware of the demonstration until he drove up on it, according to a written account on a GoFundMe page aimed at raising money for his legal defense. Both Perry and Foster are white.
“Sgt. Perry had acted in self-defense when a masked Boogaloo Boi raised an AK-47 at him during an allegedly ‘peaceful’ protest,” reads a news release provided by Perry’s attorney, Clint Broden.
Witnesses say he barreled into the crowd of demonstrators. Perry threatened one of the pedestrians and drove toward that person, according to media reports. Prior to the incident, he had reportedly made hostile statements about protesters in social media posts.
The incident unfolded around the time last year when people in multiple cities were taking to the streets to decry police brutality in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.
The case is getting a lot of media attention in the Lone Star State, and Broden is accusing the Travis County District Attorney of misconduct saying in a July 7 news release that the district attorney's office “coerced Austin police to remove a significant amount of evidence which supported Sgt. Perry’s self-defense claim from their grand jury presentation.”
According to a city of Austin news release dated July 27, 2020, police officers heard two separate volleys of gunfire during a protest march two days earlier around 10 p.m., and several people called 911, including Perry.
“The caller stated they had shot someone who had approached their driver’s window and pointed a rifle at them. The caller was instructed to pull over and officers would be dispatched. Officers located and brought the caller to the homicide office to be interviewed. The handgun and vehicle were secured as evidence,” reads the news release.
Witnesses offered multiple versions of events, according to Austin police.
“Witnesses reported that a disturbance began when a vehicle started honking its horn as it turned southbound onto Congress from 4th St. The vehicle stopped as there were a large number of people in the roadway. Foster, who was holding an AK-47 type assault rifle, approached the driver’s side window as others in the crowd began striking the vehicle. Gunshots were fired from inside the vehicle at Foster,” reads the news release.
Another person watching the soldier drive away from the crowd pulled out a handgun and fired shots at the vehicle. That person was also interviewed and that weapon seized.
Perry was released pending further investigation. A grand jury indicted him 11 months later. The soldier surrendered to Texas authorities on July 1, according to online court records.
“He turned himself in and made bond ($300,000) and was out within about 10 or 15 minutes,” said Travis County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Kristen Dark.
Foster died of multiple gunshot wounds after efforts to resuscitate him failed. He was attending the march with his wheelchair-bound girlfriend, according to media reports. One report said that Foster was a veteran. He was carrying the AK-47, which is allowed under Texas open-carry laws, using a sling.
In the aftermath of the shooting, Perry was doxed and online sleuths revealed that he had made comments about using firearms to protect himself from violent protesters.
According to a U.S. Army spokesman, the incident happened while Perry was stationed at Fort Hood. Since October, he has been attached to the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team at Fort Wainwright. He is a former Eagle Scout who earned five Army Achievement Medals, according to the GoFundMe page. More than 200 people have donated $18,635 to the Sgt. Daniel Perry Defense Fund as of Monday.
Broden pointed out that the standard of proof required for an indictment is significantly less than the standard of proof required for a conviction. He said the case is important as it pertains to the Texas Stand Your Ground Law.
Perry reportedly passed a lie detector test.
“When this case is presented to a jury at trial and the jury gets to hear all the evidence instead of a one-sided presentation, we have every confidence that Sgt. Perry will be acquitted,” reads a news release provided by Perry’s attorney.
“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 if faced with the split-second decision he faced that evening,” the news release reads.
Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7545. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/FDNMborough.