Specialist Thomas Curtis was sentenced to 3 months in military confinement and will be reduced in rank to Private in a court marshal on Fort Bragg in relation to the death of Pvt. Danny Chen.
Curtis pleaded guilty to charges of maltreatment, assault, and hazing. Curtis admitted to the court his wrong doing. In a sworn statement to court, he apologized to Pvt. Danny Chen’s family for his actions.
Curtis said he used racially disparaging names toward Pvt. Chen and purposely humiliated him in front of their platoon.
Prosecutors argued in closing arguments that Curtis’ Marine Corp background influenced his actions toward Pvt. Chen. They said it was a situation of the old military versus the new military.
Curtis told the court the corrective training he was given in the Marine Corp was different than what is expected in the Army. Prosecutors asked the judge to give Curtis a bad conduct discharge. They argued Curtis knew what he was doing to Pvt. Chen and was purposely releasing his anger on him.
Prosecutors called several soldiers from Chen’s platoon who say they witnessed the constant hazing and mistreatment of Chen.
In a statement from the president of the Organization for Chinese Americans, New York, an organization advocating for the justice of Pvt. Chen, representatives say in reaction to Curtis sentence:
allowing him to remain in the Army puts other soldiers at risk of harm, including death.
Curtis is the fifth of eight soldiers to be tried in relation to Chen’s death.