Citizens of theUnited Stateshave become accustomed to a state of endless war and have ceased to pay much attention to the plight of our active duty, veteran and retired military personnel. They wave the flag and pin yellow ribbons to banners announcing “Support the Troops” but their actions give the lie to the sentiment and ring hollowly against military reality.
From multiple deployments of troops with psychological, emotional and physical wounds to a few hundred thousand homeless veterans to veterans fighting tooth and nail for promised education and medical benefits to law enforcement deliberately targeting veterans involved in current activist movements, it has become obvious to many that rhetoric portraying American military as heroes is as empty as a combat helmet knocked from a fallen soldier’s head, skittering across the ground.
A Marine combat veteran was nearly killed by a tear gas canister in the early days of Occupy Oakland and, six months later, was purposely run down by a police golf cart in a May Day march. An Army veteran who had become a heroic figure to Occupy San Francisco was singled out and beaten by cops. One would like to think these are isolated incidents but credible information points to policies which have been adopted by law enforcement agencies across the land. These policies of deactivating vets at protest actions are disturbing, yet may form the tip of an ugly iceberg. Researchers at OccupyMARINES have identified a more ominous policy of deadly force used against military personnel. Following are just a few of their stories.
SgtDerekJ.Hale, USMC, was 25 years old when he was shot three times and killed in front of two children and a woman on December 6, 2006 by members of the Wilmington Police Department. Sgt. Hale, a U.S. Marine who served two tours in Iraq, died on the front steps at 1403 W. Sixth St.after a Wilmingtonpolice officer fired three .40-caliber rounds into his chest. He was killed after receiving multiple shocks (seven) from electronic tasers. He didn’t show his hands fast enough because he was shaking and vomiting from being tasered. His widow, ElaineHale, received a $975,000 settlement from the City of Wilmington, Delaware, but the murderers of her husband returned to policing the streets.1
TyroneBrown, a 32 year old Marine Corps veteran was shot by an off-duty Baltimorepolice office on June 7, 2010. Mr.Brown’s shooting by Officer GahijiA.Tshamba quickly became a sensation of an out-of-control cop with a questionable past linked to drinking unloading his gun into an unarmed man who had groped a woman outside a Mount Vernonnight club. The 15-year veteran officer had led a turbulent career — shot a man while drunk, crashed his car into a gas station, and was being pursued by creditors and ex-girlfriends. After the shooting, which he said was self defense, he briefly disappeared, leading to an unprecedented police manhunt for one of their own. Officer GahijiTshambawas convicted of manslaughter and was sentenced to 17 years in prison, with two years suspended.2
Jose Guerena, also USMC was 26 years old when he was shot 60 times and killed by a Tucson, Arizona SWAT team on May 5, 2011. Jose Guerena was killed in a botched drug raid by Pima County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team with his wife and 4 year old son in the home behind him. Police originally said Guerena fired at officers before they returned fire. They had to revise that statement when it was revealed that the safety on Guerena’s gun had not been switched off. Tucson KGUN’s Joel Waldman reported the SWAT team prevented paramedics from going to work on Guerena for one hour and fourteen minutes. The sheriff’s department maintains that Guerena was holding an AR-15 when the paramilitary force fired 71 bullets in his home, of which 60 struck Guerena, but key parts of the government story collapsed. The family filed a lawsuit on November 1, 2011. The suit named Pima County, Marana, Sahuarita, Oro Valley, and all SWAT operators involved in the killing. The suit covers claims of negligence in the procurement of the search warrant, in the shooting, and in the failure to provide medical attention.3
Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr., a 68 year old Marine veteran, was killed in his own home by White Plains New York police on November 19, 2011. Chamberlain had inadvertently triggered his medical alert pendant. Cops arrived and allegedly called Chamberlain a racial epithet before breaking down his door. They tasered him, shot him with a beanbag gun and then shot him twice with a “real” gun. He died two hours later. Police said Chamberlain–who told the cops he was fine and they could go away– attacked them with a hatchet and a knife, but new evidence suggests the 68-year-old may was unarmed. Despite massive citizen efforts mobilized by Mr. Chamberlain’s family and Marine groups, a White Plains grand jury recently ruled in favor of the officers.4
Justin Crowley-Smilek, a US Army veteran, 28 years old when shot to death by Farmington, Maine police officer Ryan Rosie also on November 19, 2011. The officer had a taser but elected not to use it when the man came at him with a knife, according to the police chief. Crowley-Smilek, 28, was killed after Rosie walked out of the local police department to talk to Crowley-Smilek, according to police. Crowley-Smilek, a former Army Ranger who had returned from duty in Afghanistan about six years prior, allegedly pulled a knife out of his pocket and rushed at the officer before he was shot.
According to Crowley-Smilek’s family, the veteran suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and had suffered head and back injuries while serving in Afghanistan. According to the Sun Journal of Lewiston, his family said Crowley-Smilek had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and had been suffering from mental problems at the time of his death.5
Stanley Gibson, US Army, was a 43 year old disabled war veteran who was shot and killed blocks from his home in Las Vegas, Nevada on December 12, 2011. Mr. Gibson had not taken his anti-anxiety medication and was stricken with paranoia as he headed back to the apartment where he and his wife recently had moved. In his confusion, Gibson ended up at an apartment complex a few blocks away, prompting suspicious residents to call police. Officers confronted Gibson in his car, which was pinned between two patrol cars, ultimately firing a fatal shot. He was unarmed. A breakdown in communication between supervisors and the firing officer might have contributed to the shooting, multiple department sources told the Review-Journal. Early indications were that two supervisors decided to use a beanbag shotgun — a weapon designed to subdue but not kill — to shoot out at least one window of Gibson’s vehicle. But their decision might not have been understood by the firing officer, and when one of the supervisors fired the shotgun, the officer fired multiple times in a reaction to that blast.6
US Army veteran, Marty Atencio, was 44 yrs old when he was tased to death in the infamous environs of Sheriff Arpaio in Phoenix, Arizona on December 20, 2011.
Mr. Atencio was found unresponsive in a jail cell, following an altercation with detention officers. He was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix, where he was kept alive on life-support machines. A Peoria resident, Atencio had been arrested by Phoenix cops that Thursday on assault charges after exhibiting bizarre behavior, such as kicking an apartment door and chasing an automobile. The family has suggested that Atencio was bipolar and was off his meds at the time of his arrest. Atencio’s brother, Mike, speaking on behalf of the family, told New Times that the MCSO had “murdered” his sibling, an Army vet whom he called “the most patriotic guy on the planet.” He described what the MCSO did regarding Atencio as a “ploy” so the Sheriff’s Office could claim Atencio had not died on their watch. Manning, who has successfully sued the MCSO on several occasions over wrongful deaths in MCSO facilities, agreed with his client. “[Atencio] died in the jail,” Manning explained. “But the MCSO always tries to revive [dead prisoners] and get them out of the jail so they don’t have to report it as an `in-custody death.’” Regarding rumors that Atencio may have been on illicit drugs and that this may have helped cause a cardiac arrest after he was Tased, St. Joe’s did three blood tests for drugs and alcohol that came back negative, according to Manning.7
Robert G. Long, US Air Force & Navy Reservist, 26 years old, was shot and killed by Raytown, Missouri police on January 12, 2012. Police said Long had spent most of the day drinking, first at a home and later in a bar. He was thrown out of a bar about 1 p.m. and the bar called police, who offered to either take him to jail or take him home. Officers said they took Long home. Police said once Long got to his house, he got a pistol and fired one shot into the home. His roommate returned and the two men argued over the gun. Police said the roommate told them that Long gave up the pistol and then got a rifle instead, threatening to shoot both the roommate and himself. Police said they came to the house and set up a perimeter around the house. When Long came out, he refused an order to drop the gun. “They were yelling at him to put the rifle down,” said neighbor Brian Hendrickson. “He didn’t, so they shot him.” An officer fired a single shot. Long died of his injuries at an area hospital at about 4 p.m.8
Sgt. Jason Prostrollo, USMC, 25, was shot and killed by Scottsdale Arizona Police on January28, 2012. Officers felt threatened as Protrollo, who suffered from PTSD, walked towards them with two pieces of a broken pool stick. They did not use non lethal force such as pepper spray or taser gun. They killed him. They also accidentally shot and showed more concern for their police dog. Prostrollo worked in reconnaissance as a sergeant in the Marines and was discharged two years prior to his death, said Prostrollo’s father, Warren Prostrollo of Paradise Valley. Despite a state law that requires Scottsdale Police to release reports from the Jason Prostrollo shooting, Scottsdale PD refuses to release them.9
Sgt. Manuel Loggins, a 31 year old Marine, was shot and killed in his car, in front of his two young daughters, by an Orange County, California Sheriff Deputy on February 6, 2012. Manuel Loggins was killed in front of his 9 and 14 year old daughters, his pregnant wife was at home. The Orange County Register reports the fatal shooting took place at 4:40 a.m. in the San Clemente High School parking lot. Authorities said he was “yelling irrational statements” and ignoring the commands of deputies. They said they were concerned about the safety of the children, so they killed him. Camp Pendleton officials Thursday morning released a statement from the base’s commanding officer, Col. Nicholas Marano. “While I am confident they will do the right thing in the end, I am less than satisfied with the official response from the City of San Clemente and Orange County,” Marano is quoted as saying in the statement. “Many of the statements made concerning Manny Loggins’ character over the past few days are incorrect and deeply hurtful to an already grieving family.”10
James M. Dixon III, another Marine, was shot and killed in front of his family by Georgia State Police SWAT on February 19, 2012. James Dixon, an Iraq war veteran, was suffering a PTSD episode. He was killed in front of his family after the 31 year old’s neighbors called the Sheriff to say someone had fired a shot through their house. Deputies went to Dixon’s house but decided for safety reasons to wait until daylight before confronting him. Dixon drove to his parents’ house and ran a partial roadblock to return home. SWAT took over and Dixon exited the house with a shotgun. He refused orders to put down the weapon so SWAT fired on him hitting him twice.11
Men and women who have served their country come home to high unemployment, marital difficulties, mental and physical conditions which comprise the classic “readjustment blues” and often struggle with the simplest tasks in life. They walked a long hard road to get back home. Political debates about the wars they were sent to fight have no place here. Not one single one of them deserved to be shot down like a mad dog.
Larss A. Ogren, founder and director of OccupyMARINES comments, “The aggregate law enforcement community parallels a paramilitary infrastructure. Local law enforcement officials are the ‘privates’ of the organization carrying out directives from federal agencies, including the FBI and DHS. To focus our attention upon those local officials is asinine. Redirect focus to asking who at the federal level of law enforcement, to include collaborating national security agencies, are responsible for ordering the assassinations of our brother and sister Marines.”