The Texas Self Defense laws will be the key to the defense in the recent controversial shooting of Austin protester Garrett Foster by Daniel Perry. The Texas Self Defense laws give criminal attorneys the ability to mount a strong defense in murder and aggravated assault cases under the right circumstances.
On July 25, 2020 Garrett Foster was participating in a BLM protest in downtown Austin. The defendant, Daniel Perry. was working a part time job as an Uber driver and had just dropped off a client and turn on to Congress avenue into the protesters and came to a sudden stop. The protesters surrounded his car and began to beat on the hood. Garrett Foster approached the drivers door armed with an assault rifle and demanded the driver roll down his window. A few seconds later Daniel Perry fired his handgun at Foster and struck him several times. Foster died of his wounds after being taken to the hospital.
How does the Texas Self Defense laws apply to this case? One important fact to determine is why Perry was driving a car toward the protesters. Under Texas Self Defense law a person can not instigate the incident and then claim self defense. In other words you can’t set up self defense by starting the fight. Perry’s lawyers claim they can prove Perry was working as an Uber driver and have records that prove that fact. It will be essential to Perry’s defense that his lawyers can prove he wasn’t trying to provoke a confrontation with the protesters.
According to Texas Self Defense Law the fact finder in the case must review the facts that led up to the shooting from the defendant’s perspective. The ultimate question that a jury or grand jury will answer is “Would a reasonable person in the defendants position belief deadly force was immediately necessary to protect ones life?” This is a decisions that is made in a split second and every fact that led up to the defendant’s decision to pull the trigger is important.
In this case the victim, Garrett Foster, had an assault rifle in his possession. Perry’s attorneys contend that Foster was raising the rifle at Perry which caused him to believe he was about to be killed. Video recordings from various cell phones show parts of what occurred. Numerous witnesses have been interviewed and some verify that Foster had the gun pointed towards Perry. Other witnesses have told police it was Perry’s actions that were threatening and Foster wasn’t pointing his gun towards Perry.
How these witnesses and video evidence are presented will be very important to Perry’s defense. This is a politically charged case and many of the witnesses were friends with Foster. The defense will have to investigate the witnesses background to determine if they have motive to slant their story against the defendant.
Under Texas Self Defense law the defendant’s background can be a vital part of the defense case. Will the fact finder view him as a reasonable person? Was he trained in firearms? Has he had any prior incidents of violence? Does he have a reputation for being a peaceful and law abiding citizen? These are all questions that have to be answered for a successful defense.
In this case Perry is an active duty sergeant with the army. He has served in Afghanistan and is trained in the use of firearms. That kind of background can be used to show Perry is a credible person who is trained to use firearms and has been in dangerous situations before. There are also news reports that Perry was arrested for domestic violence when he was 18 and that could play a factor but the fact that Perry served in the military after the arrest indicates that prior case may not hurt his defense.
This investigation will probably take months before it goes to a Travis county grand jury. It will be interesting to see what facts come to light and how the defense can use these facts in their case.