The hazing death case of Pvt. Danny Chen (pictured) at the hands of Army Sgt. Adam Holcomb took a new turn on Tuesday in Fort Bragg, N.C., after Holcomb pleaded for mercy in an emotional admission of his wrongdoing. Chen, a New York native of Asian descent, was a victim of a vicious hazing that Holcomb blamed on mental issues he claims were incurred by his three deployments in to war zones. On Monday, Holcomb tearfully expressed remorse:
“I have issues in my head. I know I messed up by putting my hands on a soldier,” said Holcomb, an Ohio native, while on the stand for the penalty phase of the military trial. “I know that’s not the right thing to do. I have issues with being able to control myself because of how many times I’ve been blown up.”
Holcomb was found guilty of assaulting and abusing Chen, but much to the chagrin of protesters calling for his ouster, the sergeant will serve just 30 days in military prison and will remain in service of the Army after a ruling earlier today. Holcomb will also have to forfeit a month’s pay and lose a stripe in his ranking, bumping him down to specialist.
Watch Holcomb getting off on lesser charges here:
Holcomb is the first of eight soldiers facing court martial as a result of Chen’s death. Early last October, Chen shot himself in a guard tower while stationed in Afghanistan, apparently looking to escape the verbal and physical abuse from his higher-ups. Reports say that Holcomb and others called Chen slurs, such as “dragon lady,” and dragged him across rough terrain.
A Chinatown-based Asian-American rights group are not satisfied with the court’s ruling and feel that the more serious charges of negligent homicide, reckless endangerment, and communicating a threat should remain.
“The reputation of the military is tarnished when it lets a sergeant convicted of racist maltreatment to remain in the Army,” said Liz OuYang, president of OCA-NY, according to a New York Times report. “The sentence of 30 days confinement is hardly equal with Danny Chen’s life.”