AUSTIN (KXAN) — The trial for Daniel Perry ended Friday, and after jury deliberation, he was found guilty of murder for the death of a man during a 2020 Black Lives Matter protest.
Perry faced one count of murder and another count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after the deadly shooting of Garrett Foster in the streets of downtown Austin on July 25, 2020. While he was found guilty of murder, the jury found that he was not guilty of the aggravated assault charge.
Travis County DA José Garza released a statement Friday afternoon.
“I’m grateful to our dedicated career prosecutors and victims’ counselors who tried this case. They worked hard to make a complete and accurate presentation of the facts to the jury. Our hearts continue to break for the Foster family. We hope this verdict brings closure and peace to the victim’s family.”Travis County DA José Garza
Austin police report from July 2020 incident
According to APD’s description of the incident, a car turned on Congress Avenue near 4th Street at 9:51 p.m. into where a group of protesters was marching against police violence. Protesters surrounded the car. Foster was armed with an assault-style weapon and was one of the protesters who surrounded the car.
Former Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said that is when the driver, later identified as Perry, fired five shots from inside the vehicle, hitting Foster multiple times. Foster never fired a shot. Another protester then shot at the car three times but did not hit anyone.
Perry and the other shooter were detained by police after the incident. Audio from Perry’s 911 call and video from his interview with APD were played during the trial.
Recap of the trial
During the trial’s opening statements March 28, the defense argued Perry had to defend himself after he was swarmed by protesters. Perry, an Army sergeant, came in contact with the protesters after traveling to Austin from Killeen to drive for Uber for supplemental income.
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Opening statements from the state revealed Foster was a frequent BLM protester, and prosecutors said he was protesting nearly every day that summer. The state argued Perry incited the crowd, causing protesters to respond by hitting and kicking his car, and also screaming at him.
According to state prosecutors, Perry openly discussed his anti-protest feelings on social media. They said he had a conversation with a family friend a few weeks prior to the Austin BLM protest on July 25, about a protest in Seattle, where a driver drove into a crowd and killed a protester. Prosecutors said in this conversation with his friend, Perry agreed someone could and should claim self-defense even if they incited a crowd.
Perry’s defense said he did everything he could to avoid the protesters as he dropped off one of his riders downtown. They said he was fully cooperative with police and turned over his phone and social media passwords right away, without a warrant.
The state argued Perry sped into the crowd of protesters, though that was disputed by the defense’s expert witnesses who used science and data to track the speed of his car. The expert testified he was slowing down when his car entered the demonstration.
The defense and state both rested Wednesday afternoon. During the trial, nearly 40 witnesses were called on to testify. Closing arguments were given Thursday before jurors began deliberations.
Jurors concluded their deliberations Friday evening.