|03-04-2006, 05:36 PM||#1|
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Denver, CO
Investigation Launched Into Tillman's Death
By Josh White
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 4, 2006; 6:03 PM
The Army is opening a criminal investigation into the friendly fire death of former NFL player Pat Tillman to probe whether negligent homicide charges should be brought against members of his Ranger unit who killed him in Afghanistan nearly two years ago, according to defense officials.
Pentagon officials notified Tillman's family on Friday that a Defense Department Inspector General's review of the case had determined there was enough evidence to warrant a fresh look, after initial investigations that were characterized by secrecy, mishandling of evidence, and delays in reporting crucial facts about what had happened.
The Inspector General's review was launched in August after bitter and public complaints by the Tillman family that the Pentagon had failed to hold anyone accountable for the April 22, 2004 shooting or to fully explain its circumstances. Mary Tillman has expressed deep frustration about what she calls a succession of "lies" she has been told about her son's death.
The Army originally reported that Tillman was killed in a fierce firefight with enemy forces in the rugged mountains of Afghanistan near the Pakistani border, and officials heralded his heroism with a tale of how he was charging a hill against the enemy when he was shot. Weeks later, after a national televised memorial service, the Army revealed that he had been gunned down by members of his own unit who rounded a corner in a Humvee and mistook him and a coalition Afghan fighter for the enemy.
Mary Tillman said Saturday that she believes evidence of a crime has existed all along, and that the family's repeated calls for a criminal investigation were ignored until now. "It is completely obvious that this should have been done from the very beginning," she said. "The military has had every opportunity to do the right thing and they haven't. They knew all along that something was seriously wrong and they just wanted to cover it up."
Patrick Tillman Sr. expressed skepticism that the new investigation will yield additional answers. "I think it's another step," he said. "But if you send investigators to reinvestigate an investigation that was falsified in the first place, what do you think you're going to get?"
The loss of Tillman -- a popular Arizona Cardinals football player before joining the military after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks -- rattled the Army in part because of the controversy over the nature of his death and the interactions with his family. Another friendly fire incident just days after Tillman's death, in Iraq, also included delays in notifying family members and confusion about what happened. Army officials have been working to improve the information flow to families of soldiers who die in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Col. Joseph Curtin, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon, said the Army would open an investigation to examine whether soldiers violated military law when they failed to identify their targets before opening fire on Tillman's position.
Although there have been several military investigations into the Tillman shooting, this will be the first criminal investigation. A defense official said that it will likely focus on the potential charge of negligent homicide, which means investigators will try to determine if soldiers fired recklessly without intending to kill their fellow soldier.
"We want to do the right thing for the family," Curtin said. "We owe it to the family. We owe them the truth."
Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said Saturday that the Defense Department has not come to any conclusions about the case nor has it determined that there was evidence of wrongdoing. He said the Inspector General's findings indicate instead that there should have been a criminal investigation for possible negligent homicide opened at the time of the incident and that the proper procedures were not followed. He said the Army criminal investigation could yield the same conclusions as earlier probes.
Although it took weeks for the Army to reveal publicly that Tillman's death was fratricide, the first Army investigator to look into the shooting discovered within days of the incident that Tillman was killed by his fellow Rangers, in what he concluded was an act of "gross negligence," according to documents obtained by The Washington Post. Soldiers admitted to emptying their high-powered weapons at an Afghan Militia Force soldier working with the Rangers and then on Tillman's position without knowing what exactly was in their sights. The Afghan soldier also was killed, and a U.S. soldier hiding near Tillman, behind a rock, survived.
The investigator later complained to Army officials that, in subsequent investigations, he felt the military chain of command allowed soldiers to change their stories to protect individuals, and that the punishments did not fit with his finding of gross negligence. Seven soldiers were given various administrative punishments for violations ranging from dereliction of duty to citation of a team leader for failing to effectively command and control the fire and movement of his Rangers.
|03-04-2006, 05:55 PM||#3|
RIP Darrent Williams
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Glendale, AZ
i agree they owe the family the truth, but a death is a death. A mistake is a mistake. Eitehr way, the family lost a loved one, and to add to that, it was probably Friendly fire which makes it worse. Just let it be. Save our Govt money.
|03-04-2006, 07:24 PM||#5|
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Hot Springs, Ouachitah
I was red as a beet with the NFL when they wouldn't let Jake honor him.
Friendly is, has and will be the nature of the beast...you just have to try your best to limit it. I'm sure these guys didn't mean to kill him and feel terrible...don't those guys have scrambled transponders? I know you have to be light, but those things aren't heavy?
Pat could of been down at Shotgun Willies with Meck, but he led with conviction.
The people I'm furious with is the Army which tried to cover it up. That's BS. The attiude of "clean war" is like "clean toilet"...somehow they lost commuication for whatever reason and he was taken out because of mistaken identity. There have been many instances of friendly fire...in vietnam...well...maybe his battery went dead...so lets find out and fix it. Put some lithium batteries in those transponders or walkie talkies or whatever...I was never in the military...
Pat is special because he gave up so much when he had so much to enjoy...but he's not less or more than any of our other brave soldiers. IMO, a General is no more important than a cook, except for tactical reasons.
Last edited by watermock; 03-04-2006 at 07:27 PM..
|03-04-2006, 08:13 PM||#6|
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Join Date: May 2003
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By ROBERT BURNS and LoLITA BALDOR, Associated Press Writers
March 4, 2006
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Army said Saturday it will launch a criminal investigation into the April 2004 death of Pat Tillman, the former NFL player who was shot to death by fellow soldiers in Afghanistan in what previous Army reviews had concluded was an accidental shooting.
Col. Joseph Curtin, an Army spokesman, said the Defense Department office of inspector general had reviewed the matter at the Army's request and concluded that a criminal probe was warranted.
Members of the Tillman family were notified on Friday, Curtin said. In the past, Tillman's father, Patrick Tillman, and other family members have criticized the Army and its investigations.
"We are obligated to answer the family's questions, as we are with all grieving families," Curtin said.
Curtin said the scope of the new investigation by the Army Criminal Investigation Command had not yet been determined in detail.
A Pentagon official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the new investigation has not been formally begun, said it would focus on possible charges of negligent homicide.
A second Pentagon official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said no specific soldier is under investigation at this point. He said the CID will conduct an overall death investigation and "let the facts take them where they may."
The official said that the CID's probe -- the fifth formal investigation into the incident -- will focus on the cause of Tillman's death, not necessarily on whether the previous investigations were done correctly. It is the first criminal probe.
Tillman's mother, Mary, told the Washington Post Saturday that the criminal investigation should have been launched at the onset. "The military has had every opportunity to do the right thing and they haven't," she said. "They knew all along that something was seriously wrong and they just wanted to cover it up."
His father, Patrick Tillman Sr., told the Post that he questioned whether another investigation would provide anymore answers.
"I think it's another step," he said. "But if you send investigators to reinvestigate an investigation that was falsified in the first place, what do you think you're going to get?"
Two initial fact-finding investigations were conducted at the unit level right after Tillman's death. He was a member of the Army's 75th Ranger Regiment. A third investigation was conducted by U.S. Army Special Operations Command, and a concurrent investigation was done by the Army's Safety Center.
Tillman, 27, died on April 22, 2004, when he was struck by gunfire during a firefight along a canyon road near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The Army said at the time that the barrage of bullets came from enemy fire.
A report by the Army later found that troops with Tillman knew at the time that friendly fire had killed the football star. Officers destroyed critical evidence and concealed the truth from Tillman's brother, also an Army Ranger, who was nearby, the report found.
More than three weeks after a memorial service in San Jose, Calif., the Army announced on May 29, 2004, that friendly fire rather than an enemy encounter caused Tillman's death. However, even at the time of the memorial, top Army officials were aware that the investigation showed the death had been caused by an act of "gross negligence," the report said.
Despite the Army's findings, the officer who prepared the Special Operations Command report, Brig. Gen. Gary M. Jones, concluded there was no official reluctance to report the truth. Army officials have acknowledged that they should have better handled the information they released on Tillman's death.
The Defense Department's inspector general started a review of the matter last August, in the wake of complaints from the Tillman family about how the matter had been handled.
Tillman joined the Army after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks even though he had a multimillion-dollar contract to play football for the Arizona Cardinals. He and his brother completed a tour in Iraq before going to Afghanistan.
|03-04-2006, 08:45 PM||#7|
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Join Date: Sep 2002
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Damn. Gross negligence? That sounds a bit strange considering these are Army Rangers.
|03-04-2006, 08:47 PM||#8|
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Hot Springs, Ouachitah
They took out the target...it was just misidentified. I thought those guys had transponders...no conpiracy here...just a mess up that they sould of come clean about to begin with.
Tillman was waving his arms crossed in open ground and they still took him out, then the Army covered it...
It deserves an investigation....
Last edited by watermock; 03-04-2006 at 08:50 PM..