AUSTIN, Texas — New York Attorney General Letitia James and 13 other state attorneys general are demanding a federal investigation into the killing of a Black Lives Matter protester in Austin after the shooter was pardoned by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

What You Need To Know

  • The coalition of state attorneys general sent a letter to the Department of Justice asking for a criminal civil rights investigation into the shooting death of Garrett Foster by Daniel Perry

  • Foster was participating in a BLM protest in Austin when Perry drove through the demonstration and shot and killed him. Perry claims Foster, who was legally carrying an AK-47 rifle, pointed a gun at him, prompting him to shoot

  • Perry was found guilty of murder in April 2023 and sentenced to 25 years in prison. He was later pardoned by Abbott, who said Perry was justified in shooting Foster through the state's Stand Your Ground laws

  • James and the coalition argue that it is the Justice Department's job to ensure that "justice is served" when "states fail to protect their residents from such violations of our civil rights"

In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, the coalition urged the Department of Justice to open a civil rights investigation into the July 2020 shooting of Air Force veteran Garrett Foster by former U.S. Army Sgt. Daniel Perry, who was found guilty of murder in April 2023. 

Foster was attending a Black Lives Matter protest in Austin following the murder of George Floyd by a Minnesota police officer in May 2020–which sparked a nationwide protest movement–when he was shot and killed by Perry. 

Perry was sentenced to 25 years in prison, but he was given a full pardon by Abbott just a year later. The Texas governor argued that Perry’s actions were justified by the state’s Stand Your Ground laws, which the coalition calls “an incredibly broad self-defense justification for criminal conduct,” according to a news release from James’ office. 

Perry’s lawyers argued his actions were in self defense and called the case a “political prosecution.” Perry claims he was trying to drive past the demonstration when he fired his pistol, after Foster pointed an AK-47 rifle at him. 

Foster was legally carrying that rifle, but witnesses testified they did not see him raise the weapon. 

After his conviction, a Travis County judge unsealed documents showing Perry had a history of racist and anti-protester comments on social media, such as comparing protesters to animals at a zoo and saying he was going to “shoot looters.”

James and the coalition are specifically requesting the Justice Department to investigate whether Perry violated federal criminal civil rights laws when he shot and killed Foster. 

“Garrett Foster was exercising his constitutional right to protest when he was murdered by Daniel Perry,” said James in the release. “The facts of this case were egregious, and so too is the reality that a state would so blatantly condone hateful, murderous conduct. When states fail to protect their residents from such violations of our civil rights, it’s imperative that DOJ steps in and ensures that justice is served. We urge DOJ to investigate this incident and demonstrate that this will not be tolerated in America.” 

Alongside James, the other 13 attorneys general who co-signed the letter are from Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont and the District of Columbia.