Officer testifies Austin protester Garrett Foster had been warned about way he carried his rifle
As jurors try to determine whether Austin protester Garrett Foster was pointing his rifle at Uber driver Daniel Perry before he killed Foster, a police officer testified he had seen officers warn Foster at previous protests that he was carrying his rifle in a dangerous manner.
Senior Austin officer Brent Cleveland said during Perry's trial late Thursday that Foster was "visibly and verbally not receptive" to the police criticism. Cleveland said he never spoke to Foster but had seen him carry an AK-47 in a strap slung with the barrel pointed down in previous protests. He told jurors that if Perry had raised the barrel even a small amount, it could be considered threatening.
AK-47 rifle bullets can penetrate car doors and police vests, Cleveland said. The officer testified that if he had encountered someone with an AK-47 who was carrying the rifle slung down like Foster was, and that person raised the barrel slightly, then he would shoot them.
On the night of July 25, 2020, Perry, an Army sergeant working as an Uber driver, was traveling on Fourth Street and turned onto Congress Avenue, where a Black Lives Matter crowd was marching. Perry stopped and several protesters approached his car, including Foster, police have said. Protesters have said they feared they were being attacked by someone in a car. Defense lawyers have said 28-year-old Foster raised his AK-47 rifle at Perry, and that Perry, 37, fired in self-defense.
More information about the shooting unfolded on Friday with a deputy medical examiner testifying about autopsy results. Prosecutors also played Perry's call to 911 after he shot Foster and showed a video of Perry talking to officers after the shooting.
Travis County Deputy Medical Examiner Jennifer Dierksen testified Friday that Foster was shot in the left side of his abdomen and the left side of his upper arm. He was also shot on the left upper side and the upper right side of his chest. All of the bullets traveled in a downward trajectory in his body, indicating he was shot at an angle, she said. She did not say which bullet or bullets killed Foster but said at least one of them hit one of his lungs and a major artery.
Three witnesses on Thursday said Foster was shot three times, but the discrepancy was not addressed in court Friday.
More: Witnesses: Austin protester Garrett Foster did not raise rifle toward Uber driver who killed him
Perry said in a 911 phone call played in court that Foster "aimed an AK-47 at me, and I didn't know what to do."
"I made a wrong turn, and I panicked," he said. He said he didn't know there were protesters downtown.
A witness earlier in the week showed social media posts that Perry had made saying he might be able to kill protesters if they attacked him or pulled him out of his car.
A police bodycam video was shown in court Friday of Perry when he spoke to officers right after the shooting.
Perry told the officers in the video that he rolled his window down because he thought "a guy (Foster) was trying to talk to me." He said Foster raised his gun at him.
More: Austin protester Garrett Foster was shot three times, witnesses testify in murder trial
"I didn't know he was going to aim it at me," Perry said. "I thought he was going to kill me. ... I've never been so scared in my life, and I've been to Afghanistan."
An officer also told Perry in the video that Perry, who was stationed at Fort Hood at the time, wasn't supposed to be working as an Uber driver in downtown Austin. There are regulations about where Army members can be off-base, Austin police officer Joshua Visi testified.
Alexandria Bills, who was an Austin police crime scene specialist at the time of the shooting, also testified Friday that she examined Perry's car after the shooting and lifted 24 sets of fingerprints off of it. Defense attorneys have said Perry was threatened by a crowd of protesters who surrounded his car and banged on it.
The trial will continue next week.
This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Officer testifies Garrett Foster had been warned about the way he carried his rifle at earlier protests