Objective: Provide support to families who have lost loved ones to non combat death, homicide, and suicide. Prevent non combat death, homicide and suicide by providing an expedited transfer option to whistleblowers and those who feel like their lives may be in danger.
This is a small sample of the many soldiers that have died of non combat deaths, homicide, and suicide. It was hard for me to choose which ones to feature. Given the amount of families who have questioned a ruling of suicide while their loved one was serving in the US military, it’s fair to say that some suicide rulings should have a second look to determine if a homicide was ruled out. It’s important to note that if the cause of death is determined to be suicide, then the military never has to investigate again.
My experiences as a victim of crime in the United States military inspired me to do the work I do today as a military justice policy analyst. Not only did I witness first hand how a predator operates but I witnessed multiple predator types in real time while serving my country. If these people committed these acts of crimes at work in the civilian world, they would have been in jail or I would have been rich after taking my employer to civil court. Well maybe not because the deck is stacked against the accuser but we do in fact have a civilian justice system that allows us to hold others accountable, while it simultaneously protects the due process rights of the accused. This cannot be said of the military justice system. There is no guarantee a military Commander will do anything with a crime report let alone process the felony crime effectively. We do not want a justice system where one man or woman decides whether to do nothing, give a non judicial punishment for a felony crime, or railroad the accused or accuser. We do want a justice system where we can hold our employer accountable without roadblocks from the Pentagon, Congress, and the Feres Doctrine. We cannot effectively tackle the violent crime issue in the military until the victims of crimes, like sexual assault and domestic violence, feel safe enough to report. Crime victims have expressed that they do not want to report crimes to a Commander for fear of retaliation. The Department of Defense admitted that of those of who did report the crime, 62% perceived that they faced retaliation. If service members felt safe enough to report, it could help us prevent homicide, suicide, and non combat death.
If we think about violent crime committed by military personnel compared to violent crime statistics in the United States (reference above graph), at first glance it appears the military has a homicide ‘issue’ among the ranks. Please see the below links for a sample of crime on some of the U.S. military bases. All military bases worldwide will eventually be included in this research. And the research for sexual assault, rape, domestic violence, and physical assault specifically has not been conducted yet either. Because the research is far from being complete, it is too early to make any assumptions so I will put the data in one place and let you come to your own conclusions. But if military crime mirrors civilian crime statistics, one can deduce that if the military has a lot of homicide, there is even more rape. Currently the number one concern in the military is a Commander’s ability to give a non judicial punishment for a felony crime. A Commander can bypass the courts martial process simply by punishing and/or discharging the accused with a preponderance of the evidence. This does nothing to protect our military personnel and the civilians who live near our bases in America and worldwide. Predators do not discriminate. They are just as likely to harm civilians as they are military personnel. They know their rights and they know that jurisdiction issues and lack of communication among law enforcement agencies will help prolong getting caught. We need to be one step ahead.
We can’t get real violent crime numbers for the military bases unless we include those who died of non combat deaths while they were deployed. Veterans Noonie Fortin and Ann Wright inspired me to initially look into the non combat deaths of female soldiers overseas because they observed the unusually high number of female soldiers who died of non combat deaths during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their chief concern was that although the military labels a non combat death as a suicide, there are suspicions that some female soldiers were murdered, like LaVena Johnson, Amy Tirador, and Ciara Durkin. I did the research on every single female soldier who died from non combat deaths overseas and their concerns are valid. My research on non combat deaths in Iraq alone revealed that roughly 30% of female soldiers died as a result of homicide, suicide, and other unknown causes. I am working on collecting the data for male soldiers who died from non combat related injuries in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other areas. I started with 2010 so we can get the most recent cases but I will go back to September 11, 2001 in the next phase of data collection. The first male soldier non combat death case I found in 2010 was an unsolved homicide. His name was SSG Anton Phillips and he was stabbed to death in Afghanistan. Further research in this area has uncovered that non combat deaths of male soldiers are just as prevalent.
The Department of Defense Inspector General’s office held a Worldwide Hotline Outreach Conference today July 28, 2016. One of their keynote speakers was Lt Col Teresa James, US Army, Retired, highlighted before on this site. The DoD IG twitter feed shared excerpts from her presentation summarized below. As she spoke, I tweeted with them to bring awareness to the specifics that Lt Col James noted and why they are so important. For a complete listing of the tweets by the DoD IG, please visit their Twitter feed here.
Hillary Clinton picked Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia as her Vice Presidential running mate. What is interesting about this pick is at one point in a Time magazine article in 2014, Clinton showed public support of the Military Justice Improvement Act, yet she chooses Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) as her vice presidential running mate who has been blocking the bill since 2013. Of course Senator Angus King (I-ME) endorses this choice since he too has been blocking the due process bill sponsored by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator Susan Collins, Senator Rand Paul, Senator Ted Cruz, and many other bi-partisan Senators advocating for constitutional rights for military personnel and veterans.
“The move was surprising in that it means that if she becomes President, the normally hawkish Clinton would go against the advice of military brass and remove the cases from the chain of command. It also must have had a little bit of a silver lining dig at McCaskill, who endorsed Barack Obama over Clinton in 2008.” ~Time (2014)
Army Reserve veteran Micah Johnson was accused of gunning down and murdering five Dallas police officers during a Black Lives Matter Event on July 7, 2016. This is considered one of the deadliest attacks on police officers since September 11, 2001. He was eventually killed in a stand off with police. In recent media reports we learned that Micah Johnson deployed to Afghanistan from November 2013 to July 2014. He was accused of sexual harassment while deployed to Afghanistan in May 2014. He was accused of stalking and stealing women’s underwear as well. The victim sought a protection order and told superiors he needed mental health treatment. The protection order was granted and the Commanding officer recommended an Other Than Honorable discharge and sent him home early from his deployment to Afghanistan. Johnson’s military attorney stated that this kind of punishment is unusual for an isolated incident of sexual harassment. As part of a tentative agreement, it was recommended that Johnson receive a general discharge which saves the Army time and resources needed to discharge soldiers under Other Than Honorable conditions. Instead he was eventually released from the Army with a honorable discharge in April 2015.
As a result of his actions while serving, he was not investigated and prosecuted but instead sent back home from overseas and discharged from the US Army Reserves honorably. Although we have limited information in which to base conclusions, at first glance this looks like a case of escalation of predatory behavior that starts with sexual harassment, progresses to stalking, then the individual gets brazen and starts breaking and entering to steal his victims belongings. It would only be a matter of time before the individual escalated to sexual assault, rape and then murder. It’s too early to make a definitive conclusion as we are still waiting for information to come in because this story is developing. But one thing we do know is that the US Army Reserves took the easy way out, booted Micah Johnson from the military to protect it’s service members, and unleashed him on society with no warning or records. This case is another reason why we need the military to investigate and process each and every case through the legal system so we at least have a fighting chance at prevention and escalation of crimes. If the military can’t handle or afford to investigate and prosecute each case to determine the soldier’s danger to society, then maybe they should hand over the investigation and prosecution of crimes to the civilians. This isn’t the first case they let slip through the cracks and it certainly won’t be the last.
Why wasn’t the deaths of five Dallas Police Officers enough to warrant an investigation of the way the Army handles crime? Instead the conversation was stifled in the media. The following is a list of questions sent to the Army Times and other media outlets to help them help us find answers.
• What were his behaviors prior to being reported?
• What evidence did the Commander have to grant a protection order?
• Why was the protection order for her home as well?
• Why was he sent back home from Afghanistan?
• Why did the deployed Commander recommend sexual harassment with other than honorable discharge?
• Does the Commander understand the difference between sexual harassment and escalation of a violent criminal? (sex harassment, stalking, stealing victims belongings, sexual assault, rape, murder)
• Did the deployed Commander do any follow up with Army or Army Reserves?
• Where was he sent after leaving Afghanistan?
• Did he process through Fort Hood and was anyone informed of his status?
• Why and when was he assigned an attorney? (usually not necessary for sex harassment)
• Why no follow up on what happened in Afghanistan?
• Why no punishment whatsoever for sex harassment charge, protection order?
• Why no investigation of circumstances to determine if this individual was a danger to fellow soldiers in the US?
• Why no investigation of circumstances to determine if this individual was a danger to society?
• Why only a recommendation for other than honorable discharge?
• Why no concern that this individual may harm others in the community?
• Why no concern for records and informing local community of potential danger?
• Why did Micah Johnson end up getting discharged with a honorable discharge?
• Why is media reporting that the attorney and victim cannot speak to the media?
• Do you have the money to process soldiers through the legal system?
• If you don’t have the money, why not refer the case to the civilian authorities to help you determine if this person is a danger to society?
• Why no follow up with local police after victim got a military protection order?
• Where did the victim live? On base? Off base? Was protection order coordinated between deployed commander and commander in the states?
• Where did Micah Johnson live? On base? Were others informed of the protection order and reasons why?
• Why did it take so long to discharge Micah Johnson from the military after he was sent home from Afghanistan?
• Did he continue to go to work until he was discharged?
• Did he have any other victims or accusations while serving?
• Do you keep records of reports of sex crimes if the allegation cannot be substantiated because it’s a “he said, she said” crime?
• What triggers an investigation by CID? Where are they located?
• Do you investigate if the crime is considered sex harassment?
• Why sex harassment when stalking, stealing panties, protection order, and early return home from Afghanistan?
In the News:
Micah Johnson, the suspect who shot and killed five Dallas police officers, was killed by a police robot with a bomb attached. CBS News transportation correspondent Kris Van Cleave joins CBSN to discuss a new use for the technology. -CBS News (July 8, 2016)
Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, has been identified as one of the suspected gunmen in an ambush Thursday that left five Dallas law enforcement officers dead and seven more officers injured, according to multiple law enforcement sources. -ABC News (July 8, 2016)
Dallas Sniper Micah Xavier Johnson Was Ex-Army Reservist. -ABC News (July 8, 2016)
The gunman who killed five police officers and wounded seven others Thursday night before being killed in a standoff with cops in Dallas has been identified as Micah Xavier Johnson, according to reports. Johnson, 25, was killed in a parking garage at El Centro College after opening fire as demonstrators with the Black Lives Matter movement protested police’s treatment of blacks in America, according to reports. Johnson claimed to be an army vet. -Inside Edition (July 8, 2016)
Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, was killed by robot-detonated bomb after lengthy negotiations. -CBC News (July 8, 2016)
The first family member of the gunman who killed five police officers in Dallas is speaking out. Nicole Johnson, sister of Micah Xavier Johnson, took her shock to Facebook writing, ‘I keep saying it’s not true.’ She has deleted the post and but added another saying the media will show one image of her sibling, while those who knew him will keep another. Her 25-year-old brother shot the officers during a peaceful protest in response to the recent killings of two black men by police. -Inside Edition (July 8, 2016)
Micah Johnson ambushed police during a protest in downtown Dallas Thursday, killing five officers and wounding nine others. We are finding out more about the gunman’s planning and what police found in his home. -CBS This Morning (July 9, 2016)
Five officers were killed and nine others wounded during a protest Thursday, when a gunman targeted them following the deadly shootings of two black men at the hands of police officers this week. Investigators say Micah Johnson, an Afghan war veteran, was amassing an arsenal at his home outside Dallas. His tour of duty ended in 2014 when he was sent back to the U.S. after a female soldier accused him of sexual harassment. Manuel Bojorquez reports. -CBS This Morning (July 9, 2016)
ABC News’ Matt Gutman and Pierre Thomas report the latest news in the deadly sniper attack in Texas. -ABC News (July 9, 2016)
Police said a robot was used to kill Micah Xavier Johnson, the ex-Army reservist suspected of opening fire during a police shooting rally. -ABC News (July 9, 2016)
The parents of Dallas gunman Micah Johnson have spoken out for the first time since their son’s attack on police Thursday night. Speaking to The Blaze, Johnson’s father, James Johnson and his ex-wife, Delphine broke down in tears as they discussed their veteran son’s devastating actions during a protest march. “I love my son with all my heart. I hate what he did,” James said. The astonished father added: “I don’t know what to say to anybody to make anything better. I didn’t see it coming.” -Inside Edition (July 11, 2016)
Jake Hunt said he couldn’t go a day without Micah Johnson “making you laugh at least twice a day.” -ABC News (July 11, 2016)
As the investigations continue into the three police-involved shootings within three days, CNN speaks to a man who claims to have sold a military-style rifle to Micah Johnson, the Dallas sniper attack suspect. -CNN (July 12, 2016)
CBS News’ Manuel Bojorquez discusses the interview with Dallas shooter Micah Johnson’s parents. Bojorquez is in Dallas, where President Obama and George W. Bush will speak at a memorial today. -CBS News (July 12, 2016)
Thousands of people have attended a candlelight vigil outside the Dallas Police Department to honour the five officers shot dead during a protest over the killings of two black men. Micah Johnson killed Lorne Aherns, 48; Michael Krol, 40; Brent Thompson, 43; Mike Smith, 55; and Hispanic officer Patrick Zamarripa, 32. -Euronews (July 12, 2016)
As the funerals for the slain Dallas police officers continue, the investigation into the background and motive of Dallas shooter, Micah Johnson, continues. The US Army has opened an investigation into Johnson’s military service. Johnson reportedly spent six years in the Army Reserves and was accused of sexual harassment while serving. RT America’s Manuel Rapalo reports from Dallas, where police are also investigating claims that Johnson purchased an AK-47 off of Facebook for $600 before the shooting. -RT America (July 14, 2016)
On July 7, 2016, Micah Johnson killed five police officers and injured nine others. This 3d animation shows what we know about the path of his deadly ambush through downtown Dallas at the end of a peaceful march to protest police shootings of black men around the country. -The Dallas Morning News (July 31, 2016)
On March 10, 2016 the United States Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals upheld United States v. Jane Neubauer, United States Air Force. Is this another case of federal government overreach and denial of due process rights? I think John Q Public‘s assessment of this case speaks volumes of the real issues behind the Command directed prosecution of an airman who blew the whistle after being recruited as an Office of Special Investigations (OSI) confidential informant. The same OSI office she exposed ended up investigating and assisting with her prosecution. This is yet another example of the importance of letting an impartial law enforcement official and prosecutor make decisions about whether to investigate, who should investigate, who to investigate, and whether or not they have the evidence to move forward with a case. The moment a military member asks for an attorney, all criminal justice communications with Commanders and their investigators must cease. Every accused military member should be represented by counsel and afforded their due process rights throughout the entire investigation including collection of evidence. Learn more about your due process rights here.
“There have been many sexual assault accusations far less credible than the accusation made by this Airman. Many that were enthusiastically pursued by prosecutors despite their frailty … many that did not result in disciplinary actions when they were revealed to have been false.
So, what was so special about this accusation?
Well, she was an OSI informant, and the situation cast OSI in an extremely negative light at a time when the OSI informant program was already under fire. The same organization that recruited her right out of BMT to help investigate drug activity at Keesler AFB conducted the investigation that eventually resulted in her prosecution.
If she’s wrong … if she’s bad … if she’s a liar … then obviously she’s the problem. She’ll absorb the negative attention and culpability … leaving OSI and its shady actions in this debacle comfortably out of the limelight.
Another example of prosecutorial inconsistency and arbitrariness in the USAF … demonstrating that it’s not operating an impartial justice system, but a score-settling control device on behalf of the chain of command.” ~John Q Public
The early morning hours of August 23, 2008 changed Army Special Forces soldier Sgt. 1st Class Kelly Stewart’s life forever. Stewart went out for a night of drinking and partying in Germany with some other soldiers. Stewart was approached by a woman, a German citizen, and they began to dance. An hour or so later, they would leave together to engage in a casual one night stand. The next morning they said their goodbyes and she gave Stewart her number. A couple months later, Stewart would learn from German police and the Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) that he was being accused of sexual assault by this same woman. Three Days in August by Bob McCarty takes the reader step by step through Kelly Stewart’s military court proceedings in Germany in August 2009. This book reveals the reasons so many concerned citizens are fighting for military justice reform. Whether you believe he is guilty or not, Kelly Stewart was railroaded with collateral charges in this particular court martial. There was no evidence, no forensic testing, and no witnesses to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt yet Kelly Stewart paid the price for embarrassing the US Army in an international incident.
Kelly Stewart had a stellar career and zero history of any wrong-doing in his more then ten year career, including behavioral and criminal. But the military prosecutor would lead you to believe he was a violent rapist luring his one victim with manipulation, not force. You read the book and decide for yourself if Kelly Stewart fits the modus operandi of a would be predator. After watching the Netflix docuseries Making a Murderer and reading Kelly Stewart’s record of trial, it’s looking like we have a case of making a rapist. As with all investigations, this is a testament to the value of the right to remain silent whether talking to your Chain of Command or an investigator. Given the military’s track record with aggressive and ruthless tactics, silence will prevent them from twisting your statements into something they are not. Kelly Stewart may have committed adultery and he owned up to it but what if when questioned he had said nothing and denied even knowing her. It’s not his fault that he or any of our soldiers think they can trust the system only to learn that it will betray them. Nothing can stop us from educating our soldiers about their due process rights, the same rights protected by the very Constitution they are willing to die for.