- John Gastaldo / Reuters
- Navy SEAL Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher was acquitted of murdering a teenage Islamic State fighter who had surrendered and firing at civilians in Iraq in 2017. However, he was found guilty of posing with a dead body in a photo.
- One of Gallagher’s attorneys turned to Facebook to crowdsource incidents of similar offenses, in a bid to have Gallagher’s sentence reduced. “Since Eddie Gallagher has a large number of supporters, I figured, ‘Why not?'” the attorney Tim Parlatore told INSIDER.
- Gallagher was sentenced to a reduction in rank, four months’ confinement, and two months’ pay docked.
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An attorney for Navy SEAL Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher is seeking examples of US troops posing with dead bodies, which Gallagher was recently found guilty of at a trial, in a bid to reduce his punishment, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported on Thursday.
Gallagher, whose case made national headlines, was accused by members of his SEAL team of killing a teenage Islamic State combatant and posing for a photograph with his corpse, and of firing at civilians in Iraq in 2017. He was acquitted of all charges by a court-martial, except for the photo offense.
Gallagher faced a life sentence for the murder charges. His sentence for the photo offense included four months in prison, which he already served in pretrial confinement. He was also docked two months’ pay, and the jury reduced his rank to an E-6, which will affect his pension.
But one of Gallagher’s attorneys, Tim Parlatore, hopes to reduce Gallagher’s court-martial conviction by citing examples of others who have committed photo offenses and received nonjudicial punishments (NJP), a way for the military to discipline troops without resorting to a court-martial that typically comes with stiffer sentencing.
“As many of you know, he was acquitted of all serious charges, but convicted of being in a photo with a terrorist’s corpse – an offense usually handled at NJP/Captain’s Mast/Article 15. I am therefore petitioning the convening authority to disapprove this charge (and the associated reduction in rank) and instead impose NJP.”
Parlatore told The San Diego Union-Tribune that since none of the other SEALs who took photos with the Islamic State combatant’s body weren’t being charged with photo offenses, “We shouldn’t let [Gallagher] take a court-martial conviction – which a lot of people take as a felony – that could affect his rights that come along with a criminal record.”
“Since Eddie Gallagher has a large number of supporters, I figured, ‘Why not?'” Parlatore told INSIDER via phone regarding his decision to post the request.
Parlatore’s post asks supporters of Gallagher to send him examples of prior photo offenses that had received NJPs, helping him cite precedent for handling Gallagher’s case at a lower level. Since these kinds of cases aren’t readily searchable and accessible to him as a civilian, he said, he had to “crowdsource” examples of such cases.
Parlatore told INSIDER that he’d already received about 25 responses – from the recently retired to Vietnam veterans.
Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar will decide how to consider Parlatore’s request. According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, Bolivar, who oversaw Gallagher’s court-martial, has 120 days to approve or change Gallagher’s sentence.
“Everything that I’ve seen so far, she seems to be very fair. And this is something that she’ll look at, hopefully, favorably,” Parlatore said.
“The idea of an NJP, it makes sense given the severity of the charges he’s convicted of,” Parlatore said. “What I’m asking for is not unprecedented.”
“Ultimately, what I’m trying to do here is to get Eddie retired and home with his family,” Parlatore said.
Attempts to reach Gallagher’s wife, Andrea, for comment were unsuccessful.