Local Charleston, SC USAF officer on the front page of the Air Force Times
Lt. Col. Gary Brown was involved in an incident back in September 2006 where he and a fellow USAF officer pulled weapons on a Blackwater employee Jimmy Bergeron. Today Lt. Col. Brown is waiting to hear if his case will go to a court-martial after an Article 32 hearing has come to a close. The Article 32 hearing seems to have produced more questions than answers regarding this case. The investigating officer reporting on Lt. Col. Brown says:
“I recommend that all the charges and specifications against Lt Col Brown be dismissed. After reviewing all the evidence in this case, I find that Lt Col Brown followed the rules of engagement (ROE) when he confronted Mr. Bergeron on 19 Sep 06. After being rammed by the vehicle that Mr. Bergeron was driving and then having Mr. Bergeron approach his vehicle at the Delta gate, Lt Col Brown stated that he feared for his life and he believed, at the time, that Mr. Bergeron was a threat.“
The recommendation for dismissal of charges is no surprise. The alarming information coming out of the Article 32 hearing is related to allegations of evidence tapering, witness bribing and falsifying evidence just to name a few. A video tape offered by the prosecution as actual footage of the events of 19 September 2006 is suspected to be a re-enactment. One primary example of inconsistency in the video is that the first element of the first charge against Lt. Col. Brown states that he did “throw Jimmy Bergeron’s keys away from his vehicle.” Lt. Col. Brown does not dispute this allegation. The evidence shown in the video contradicts this charge is reported to have shown Bergeron departing the scene in his vehicle without ever searching for his keys. Brown’s defense attorney pointed out at least four other discrepancies in the video tape. The investigating officer agreed with the defense concerning the video by saying:
“There is no chain of custody for the videotape. I concur that the videotape provided, that is purported to be from 19 Sep 2006, does not match the sequence of events as they have been described by the witnesses. Therefore, I did not consider it for purposes of this report.”
Bergeron is reported as the victim of the actions by the two Air Force lieutenant colonels but was not presented for in-person testimony and defense cross examination during the Article 32 proceedings. At least one witness who did take the stand during the Article 32 hearing requested an attorney in response to questions concerning document tampering.
The official results of the Article 32 have not been released for Lt. Col. Brown and Lt. Col Hall. They are still waiting on Lt. Gen. Gary North to decide if they will face a court-martial.
Quotes found in this post have been taken from the 25 page report titled Investigating Officer’s Report: Lt. Col. Gary Brown (***WARNING: THIS PDF REPORT CONTAINS OFFENSIVE LANGAGE***). The link to this detailed report was found in an Air Force Times article titled Report: Evidence falsified in Kabul case.
The Air Force Times article brings attention to some very important questions that Lt. Col. Brown’s wife Stacey is asking. She and her husband have spent an estimated $24,000 for a civilian attorney to represent him in this case. Very few military members can scrap together this level of cash for legal defense. A couple the questions that Stacey asks on her web site titled BLACKWATER WRONGLY JEOPARDIZES MILITARY OFFICERS’ CAREERS help shed some light on the fact that her heart is not only concerned with keeping her husband out of jail.
“What if this would have been an E-4 in this situation? Would he/she been able to fork over the $12,000 – $25,000 that it took to hire a civilian attorney to represent our accused?”
Read Air Force Officers vs Blackwater – Round I for more information on this story.