Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher has been acquitted of murder charges, after a jury found him not guilty of murder or premeditated murder in a military court.
Gallagher was charged with these offenses based on an alleged stabbing of an ISIS fighter in 2017 while he was deployed in Iraq as well as alleged sniper fire aimed at an older man and a younger girl.
He was also convicted for the charge of wrongfully posing for an unofficial photo with a human casualty. This carries a punishment of up to four months’ confinement, but Gallagher is likely to get credit for the eight months he spent in the brig in the lead up to his trial, Navy spokesman Brian O’Rourke said to Task & Purpose.
Prosecutors painted Gallagher as a man who sent a “trophy photo” to his friends and was proud to commit murder in the field of battle. The defense argued that the “target fixation” of NCIS blinded them from alternatives to their hypothesis.
Lead prosecutor Jeff Pietrzyk, who is a Navy Commander, admitted that the ISIS fighter would not elicit much sympathy because of his terrorist motives, perhaps deservedly so.
“I’m not going to argue to you that this was a particularly sympathetic victim,” Pietrzyk said, admitting that “he would’ve done anything in his power to kill Americans” before being hit by a U.S. air strike.
Pietrzyk argued that the ISIS fighter was out of commission and receiving medical care and deserved to be detained and not killed.
“At that point, he was no longer a lawful target,” he said. “We’re not ISIS. When we capture someone they’re out of the fight. That’s it.”
Gallagher’s case was bolstered after Special Operator Corey Scott owned up to killing the prisoner by plugging the terrorist’s breathing tube to end his suffering.
Gallagher was also accused of firing at Iraqi civilians in a sniper tower by a handful of SEALs who allegedly witnessed the act. Defense attorney Tim Parlatore argued that “this case is not about a murder. It’s about a mutiny,” and Gallagher was being railroaded by “young entitled” SEAL platoon members who reported him falsely for war crimes.
“When the chief pushed them, they didn’t like it,” Parlatore said.
Ultimately, Gallagher was acquitted of the major charges. His attorney, Marc Mukasey, remarked that Gallagher reacted with “tears of joy, emotion, freedom and absolute euphoria.”
It was reported that President Trump would have pardoned Gallagher had he been convicted of war crimes, but that will likely no longer be necessary. Gallagher is now anticipated to be a free man.
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