News & Politics

Army Sergeant Identified as Driver in Austin Protest Shooting; Lawyer Says He Shot in Self-Defense

Crop from widely distributed photo that appears to show Garrett Foster moments before fatal shooting in Austin, Texas, July 25, 2020.

The attorney for the man who shot armed protester Garrett Foster in Austin on the night of July 25 has been identified as an active-duty sergeant in the United States Army, reports the Austin American-Statesman. He is identified as Army Sgt. Daniel Perry. The AAS reports Perry was driving for a ride-hailing company on the night of the unpermitted protest. Foster was carrying an AK-47 rifle on the night of the protest.

PJ Media was the first to report that the shooter is a military member and that he was driving in the course of earning extra money in the area of the unpermitted protest that night. We were also first to report the probability that the shooting may have happened in self-defense in accordance with Texas castle doctrine law.

Perry had dropped off a rider near Congress Avenue the night of the protest and drove toward a “hot spot” to wait for another client or food order. He turned right onto Congress Avenue near Fourth Street, the statement says.

When Perry turned on to Congress Avenue, he encountered the protest and several people began hitting his vehicle. The statement says Perry did not know a protest was happening that night.

Foster, whom Perry at first thought was a law enforcement official, approached his vehicle and motioned with an assault rifle for him to lower his window, the statement says. Perry realized after rolling down his window that Foster was not a member of law enforcement.

The statement says Foster began to raise his rifle at Perry. Witnesses have told the American-Statesman that Foster had his weapon pointed down.

Perry shot at Foster with a handgun he kept in his vehicle for protection, the statement says.

The fact that the protest was not permitted will be key to Perry’s defense, should he face charges. Protests such as the one that took place on July 25 are not permitted and their routes are not published. Residents and visitors have no reliable way of knowing when or where protests will occur or how large the crowds may be. The protest on July 25 was taking place just before 10 p.m. on a Saturday night in the entertainment district of downtown Austin. Anyone encountering a crowd has little means of identifying who is in the crowd or what their intentions may be. Protests have repeatedly become violent without warning, in Austin and many other cities, in the past two months.

In Perry’s case, according to a source familiar with events that night and now the attorney representing the sergeant, he was earning extra money that night via ride-share and had just dropped off a ride when he turned south on Congress Ave. and encountered a crowd. Perry had the legal right to be in that place at that time, provided he was committing no crime and there is no evidence or indication that he was. He is a licensed handgun carrier, indicating a clean record. Texans must pass a criminal background check before earning a license to carry in the state.

Video recorded by the dashcam of another car just prior to the shooting indicates the crowd stopped and surrounded his car, refusing to allow him to pass. The crowd had no legal right to stop him from driving on a public street. He honked the car horn, which speaks to his intent. Had he intended to harm anyone, he was driving a car that he could have used to strike members of the crowd.

The crowd reportedly began striking his car, and protester Garrett Foster approached with his AK-47 and motioned Perry to roll down his window with his rifle — which may mean he pointed the rifle at Perry in making that motion. Openly carrying a rifle is legal in Texas, but Foster had no legal right to demand Perry take any action.

Firearms training, including that which Foster would have received during his brief military career, instructs carriers to never point their weapon at another individual unless intending to shoot.

Texas castle law going back more than a decade covers individuals in their vehicles who believe their life is in danger. It places no responsibility on drivers to retreat, and in Perry’s case, the crowd would not allow him to, before using force up to and including deadly force to defend themselves.

Protests have erupted into violence all over the country in recent weeks, including in Austin. More than 20 people have been killed in the ongoing riots.

In late June in Austin, a protest crowd illegally blocked a street with stolen scooters and surrounded a car passing through. The driver of that car waved a handgun at the crowd and was able to escape unharmed.

In Provo, Utah, a flash-mob blocked a street, surrounded a truck, and shot the unarmed driver inside. This incident occurred in late June.

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