Army to Conduct Criminal Probe of Tillman's Death

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 5, 2006  - The Defense Department has asked the U.S. Army to launch a criminal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Cpl. Pat Tillman, who was killed in the spring of 2004 during a combat operation in Afghanistan.

On March 3, the DoD inspector general's office notified the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command at Fort Belvoir, Va., of the need to reexamine the details of Tillman's death to determine if he died as the result of a possible criminal act, a U.S. Army spokesman said here today.

Tillman, who'd been a National Football League player with the Arizona Cardinals before he enlisted in 2001, was killed April 22, 2004 in Afghanistan. He was 27 years old. Tillman and his brother enlisted in the Army after the terrorist attacks on the United States.

Tillman was a member of the 75th Ranger Regiment from Fort Lewis, Wash., when he was killed.

Today on NBC's "Meet the Press," host Tim Russert asked Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, why previous investigations apparently haven't answered all questions on the Tillman's death.

"First of all, the Tillman family has gone through enormous anguish, and the fact that that has happened to them is really regrettable," Pace said.

And, each of the previous investigations was performed as thoroughly as possible by the investigating officers at the time, Pace said. "But, in the review process it was determined that some other factor needed to be looked at to ensure that we had a complete picture," Pace said.

For example, previous investigations into Tillman's death had concluded there was no apparent evidence of wrongdoing.

However, "the investigators did not specifically look at whether or not there was criminal activity" involved in Tillman's death," Pace said.

The Army conducted three investigations into Tillman's death - two at unit level and one by U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C. The inquiries concluded that friendly fire killed Tillman, the Army spokesman said.

The service disciplined seven soldiers in Tillman's unit. Three received reprimands for failing to "provide adequate command and control" during the incident and four received article 15 non-judicial punishment for "failure to exercise sound judgment and fire discipline," according to Army officials.

"The U.S. Army remains committed to thoroughly investigating each battlefield death case," Army spokesman Paul Boyce said today. "We owe this to the families and to the American public and we take this seriously."

Boyce extended the Army's condolences to Tillman's family, "and to every family who has lost a loved one in the war on terrorism."

Boyce said that reopening a death investigation is not a rare occurrence.