AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A Dallas law firm said it is representing a soldier stationed at Fort Hood who fatally shot an armed demonstrator at an Austin rally against police violence last weekend.
The law firm Broden & Mickelsen said Thursday night that it is representing Sgt. Daniel Perry, who is on active duty with the U.S. Army.
Perry has not been charged, and Austin police have not named him as a suspect in their investigation. Police asked the public for tips and video Thursday to help in their investigation of the killing of Garrett Foster, 28.
Foster was shot July 25 as demonstrators marched through downtown Austin. He was taken to a hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
The law firm said Perry was in Austin that night driving for a ride-share company. Perry dropped off a client off and was waiting for his next rider when he turned right onto a street and encountered the protest that he didn’t know was happening, according to a statement from attorney Clint Broden.
“When Sgt. Perry turned on the Congress Avenue, several people started beating on his vehicle,” the law firm’s statement said. “An individual carrying an assault rifle, now known to be Garrett Foster, quickly approached the car and then motioned with the assault rifle for Mr. Perry to lower his window.”
Perry initially thought Foster worked in law enforcement and put his window down, the law firm said. But then Foster raised his weapon toward Perry, according to the law firm, and Perry realized Foster was not a police officer.
The statement said several witnesses confirmed this account.
Perry, who carried a handgun in his car, fired at Foster in self defense, Broden said. Someone in the crowd then fired at Perry’s vehicle, so Perry drove to away and called the police.
Perry is cooperating with the police investigation, Broden said, and offered sympathy to Foster’s family on his client’s behalf.
“Sgt. Perry is devastated by what happened,” Broden said.
Austin police did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday. A day earlier, the department said it would not be releasing or confirming the identity of the person who shot Foster, citing an ongoing investigation.
U.S. Army officials confirmed that Perry is on active duty and assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood.
“The unit continues to cooperate with the Austin Police Department in their ongoing investigation,” Army officials said Friday in a statement.
Perry is a decorated soldier from North Texas who has served in the military for eight years, Broden said.
Police said witnesses told them a disturbance began when a vehicle started honking at protesters. The vehicle stopped as protesters crossed the street and Foster, who was holding an AK-47 type assault rifle, approached the driver’s side window. He was shot from inside the vehicle.
Witness Michael Capochiano said the car sped through the protesters before it apparently hit an orange barrier and stopped, told the Austin American-Statesman.
In video that was streamed live on Facebook, a car can be heard honking before several shots ring out and protesters start screaming and scattering. Police can then be seen tending to someone lying in the street.
Austin police say they have interviewed the person who shot Foster and have the gun used in the confrontation secured as evidence.
Acacia Coronado is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.