The disclosure comes as Austin police seek the public’s help to learn more about the events that led to the shooting. No one has been arrested or charged in connection with it.
What’s clear is that 27-year-old Garrett Foster was shot by a motorist who had just turned onto the avenue where the demonstration was being held.
Police said Sunday they’d received a 911 call from someone saying they’d shot someone at the protest who’d approached their vehicle and pointed a rifle at them. In Texas, it’s legal to carry a weapon in public without a permit as long as it isn’t done in a “manner calculated to alarm.”
Police said they brought that person in for questioning, along with another person who claimed he or she had fired back at the vehicle as it drove away.
Attorney Clint Broden, of Dallas-based Broden, Mickelsen, LLP, said late Thursday night that Sergeant Daniel Perry, an eight-year veteran, was in Austin driving for a ride-share company when he turned onto Congress Avenue and “encountered a throng of people in the street.” Perry didn’t know about the protest, Broden said.
After Perry made the turn, “several people started beating on his vehicle,” Broden asserts.
At that point, according to Broden, someone carrying an assault rifle “quickly approached the car and then motioned with the assault rifle for Mr. Perry to lower his window. Sgt. Perry initially believed the person was associated with law enforcement and complied with the command. After rolling down the window, it became apparent to Sgt. Perry that the individual with the assault rifle was not with law enforcement.
“It has now been confirmed by several witnesses that this individual with the assault rifle then began to raise the assault rifle toward Sgt. Perry. It was only then that Sgt. Perry, who carried a handgun in his car for his own protection while driving strangers in the ride share program, fired on the person to protect his own life.
“Immediately after Sgt. Perry fired on the individual who raised the assault rifle toward him, a member of the crowd began firing on Sgt. Perry’s vehicle. Sgt. Perry drove to safety and immediately called the police. He waited for the police to arrive and fully cooperated with the police following the shooting and he continues to do so.”
” … Sgt. Perry and his family deeply sympathize with the loss and grief being experienced by Mr. Foster’s family. Sgt. Perry is devastated by what happened.”
But James Sasinowski, who was among the demonstrators, told Chris Cuomo on CNN Monday night that, “The thing I want to make extremely clear … (is that) the driver intentionally and aggressively accelerated their vehicle into a crowd of people. That is extremely clear. … He incited the violence. Period.”
Independent journalist Hiram Gilberto Garcia said he interviewed Foster in a video on Periscope prior to the shooting. During the interview, Foster said he was carrying an AK-47.
“They don’t let us march in the streets anymore, so I’ve got to practice some of my rights,” he said. He said he didn’t think he would use it, because “if I use it against the cops, I’m dead.” He said he didn’t think the people who “hate us” would shoot at them.
His mother told The Dallas Morning News her son had been bringing a gun to the protests, which he’d been attending with his fiancee, who is a quadruple amputee. In the Periscope video, the fiancee said they’d been protesting “for a month and a half.”
CBS Austin affiliate KEYE-TV says Austin police are now asking anyone with relevant information on the shooting, including original video footage or images, to come forward.