The household of a soldier whose head washed ashore off the coast of North Carolina will file a civil go well with towards the Army for the way it dealt with the investigation into his demise, the household’s lawyer advised Navy.com on Sunday.
In Might 2020, Spc. Enrique Roman-Martinez, 21, went tenting within the Outer Banks space with seven different troopers. A member of the group reported him lacking on Might 23 and, six days later, Roman-Martinez’s head was discovered only a few miles away from the troopers’ campsite.
No suspect has been named within the case, and the way wherein the Fort Bragg human assets specialist died is unknown.
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Greater than two years after Roman-Martinez’s demise, his household needs solutions concerning the fruitless Army investigation and is hoping the lawsuit will unearth extra details about what occurred.
“I need the reality,” Griselda Martinez, Roman-Martinez’s sister, advised Navy.com on Monday. “I need extra effort for my brother. … I need justice for my household. … He was within the most secure place in the entire world, and my brother was murdered on American land serving as a member of the navy.
“This closure is all the things to me,” she added. “It is for my mother, for my household, my brother’s associates — the folks that touched his life — it is for all of us.”
Whereas the Army has been investigating the demise — which has been designated as a chilly case — as a murder, officers have beforehand stated that the seven key witnesses who went tenting with Roman-Martinez, all present or previously junior enlisted troopers, will not be suspects in his demise. The final of these witnesses face potential dismissals from the navy subsequent month on nonviolent prices associated to the journey.
It’s unclear precisely when the civil go well with will launch, although Dustin Collier, a California-based lawyer representing the household, advised Navy.com that it is going to be this yr. He additionally stated the household plans to make use of the Federal Tort Claims Act, a authorized software that enables people to sue the federal authorities. The legislation offers the Army six months to succeed in a settlement, earlier than the lawsuit can proceed.
Collier stated he’d “be shocked in the event that they took us up on that chance” for a settlement, and he anticipates the lawsuit shifting forward.
“There shall be some interval of discovery the place hopefully we are able to get solutions to questions the Army has been unwilling or unable to reply for us so far, together with hopefully acquiring unredacted copies of data,” he stated.
There are a number of key questions the household hopes to uncover, based on Collier, together with questions on how shortly the Army Prison Investigation Division, or CID, probe commenced after Roman-Martinez was reported lacking.
A redacted CID report shared by Collier with Navy.com exhibits that Army particular brokers weren’t notified till almost two days after Roman-Martinez was reported lacking. Collier additionally stated that FBI dive groups weren’t deployed till months after the soldier’s stays have been discovered, one thing he stated ought to have been finished sooner.
Griselda Martinez discovered many elements of the case “odd,” she stated, together with that her brother’s glasses have been discovered on the campsite, ones that he wanted to see regardless of reportedly going lacking in the midst of the night time.
Navy.com reached out to Army CID on Monday, asking for touch upon the potential points Collier cited, however a spokesman didn’t reply by publication.
Collier stated that he’s additionally involved with the shortage of transparency the Army gave him and the household in connection to the case.
“It is one of many causes that we’re extraordinarily upset with the Army,” Collier stated, “the truth that we have been getting completely different messages at completely different cut-off dates, not all the time in keeping with what they’re telling the general public.”
In August 2021, the CID alluded to Roman-Martinez’s demise being attributable to a ship propeller, an announcement that Collier stated bewildered him and the household.
“Please perceive that murder mainly signifies that somebody’s demise was attributable to another person,” stated CID Particular Agent Steve Chancellor in a press launch that touted the unit’s efforts, together with over half a dozen different companies, to resolve the case. “That signifies that the demise might have been intentional or it might have been unintentional — for instance on this case, somebody operating over somebody with a ship whereas the individual was within the water, and so on.”
Army officers haven’t publicly raised the boat idea, one which Collier stated was “arduous to think about,” once more.
Collier additionally stated that he and the household came upon from a January 2021 Rolling Stone article that the Army was leveling non-violent prices — drug use, making false statements, and conspiracy counts — towards the important thing witnesses who had been tenting with Roman-Martinez.
“[The Army] advised us in August when the CID report got here out that the case was being closed and no prices have been being filed towards anyone, which turned out to not be true,” Collier stated. “They have been submitting prices the very subsequent month, and no one bothered to inform us that.”
The announcement of the deliberate civil go well with comes because the final of the seven troopers who accompanied Roman-Martinez are scheduled for hearings to conclude courts-martial on nonviolent prices associated to the journey, successfully ending the navy’s management of the case’s key witnesses.
4 of the troopers — Sgt. Samuel Moore, Spc. Alex Becerra, Spc. Joshua Curry, and Spc. Benjamin Sibley — who accompanied Roman-Martinez to the Outer Banks have already confronted courts-martial for non-violent prices.
As of January, Moore, Becerra, and Curry had pleaded responsible to numerous conspiracy and false assertion prices, acquired reductions in rank, and have been dismissed from the Army, based on Lt. Col. Anthony Clas, a spokesperson for the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg.
Sibley was convicted, “opposite to his pleas,” based on Clas, for conspiracy to commit a false assertion and making a false assertion; he was additionally diminished in rank and discharged from the navy. Becerra was convicted of three counts of disobeying a superior officer and one depend of wrongful use of a managed substance.
Spc. Juan Avila faces prices for conspiracy to supply a false assertion and offering a false assertion and could have his abstract court-martial on the finish of the month. Pfc. Samad Landrum and Pvt. Annamarie Cochell are charged with the identical counts, in addition to wrongful use of LSD, a psychoactive drug. Their courts-martial are scheduled for subsequent month, based on Clas.
— Drew F. Lawrence could be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Observe him on Twitter @df_lawrence.
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