A 29-year-old ex-soldier who had served 12 months in Afghanistan, upset over
orders to deploy to Iraq, was shot to death December 26 after a night-long
standoff at a house in Maryland. James E. Dean was notified earlier this
month to report to Fort Benning, Georgia, on January 14, 2007, for service
On the evening of Christmas Day, Dean barricaded himself inside his father's
home in rural Leonardstown, about 50 miles southwest of Washington, D.C.,
near the Chesapeake Bay. Although armed with several weapons, he took no
hostages and was apparently a danger only to himself, threatening to commit
suicide rather than report for military duty.
Dean had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after he
returned from Afghanistan in 2005, where he had won awards for service, good
conduct and marksmanship as a sergeant leading an infantry unit. He was
reportedly suffering from depression and had become dependent on
Since his discharge from the military, Dean had been seeing a Veterans
Affairs psychologist and struggling with his combat-related problems, while
making progress in his personal life. He got a job as a heating and cooling
installer and mechanic and was well regarded by his co-workers. In July
2005, he met his future wife Muriel, marrying her four months ago. This
Christmas would have been their first as a married couple.
The letter recalling him to military service—he still had an Army Reserve
commitment—apparently sent Dean over the edge. He had already stopped seeing
his psychologist, his wife said, and after the letter, began drinking
heavily and flying into rages. He told her he was going crazy, she told the
Washington Post, and that no one knew how bad war was. His last words as he
left the house on Christmas were "The next time you see me, it's going to be
in a body bag."
Dean's family called the police out of concern that he might kill himself,
but the police response was a military-style siege that ended in the young
man's death. Tactical units from the Maryland State Police and St. Mary's,
Calvert and Charles county sheriffs' offices all converged on the house,
surrounding it and claiming that Dean had fired several shots at police
cars, although no officers were injured.
After 14 hours, at about noon on Tuesday, December 26, the police were
preparing to use tear gas to force him out, when Dean emerged at the front
door and was shot dead. St. Mary's County Sheriff Tim Cameron said that Dean
had pointed his gun at a police officer, and that a deputy sheriff had fired
once, killing him.
Cameron said that police spent most of the night trying to negotiate with
Dean but he refused to surrender and broke off communication. "We threw a
phone in the window and he threw it back out," the sheriff said. "He was
asked to come out and refused repeatedly," Cameron told the press.
There was no independent confirmation of the sheriff's account, and family
members challenged many of the details provided by the authorities. The
police cut off Dean's cell phone service when he was trying to call his
grandmother's house, and they had refused to allow family members, including
his parents and grandparents, to speak with him.
The official investigation is certain to be a whitewash, since it will be
conducted by the St. Mary's County Bureau of Criminal Investigation,
consisting of officers from the same department that participated in the
siege and shooting.
One of Dean's neighbors told the Post that the prospect of returning to war
had sent him into a "spiral of depression." Wanda Matthews, who lives next
door to the home where Dean died, described him as a "very good boy."
"His dad told me that he didn't want to go to war," Matthews said. "He had
already been out there and didn't want to go again."
The media reporting on this incident—which in effect imposed a summary death
sentence for refusing military service in Iraq—was notably muted. The
Washington Post buried the item on the inside pages of its Metro section,
and the Associated Press ran a brief item that was buried even more deeply
in the New York Times and other newspapers across the country. The national
television networks said nothing at all.
A second article in the Post on December 29 suggests that the police knew
very well who they were dealing with—an ex-soldier with medals for
marksmanship—and made a deliberate decision to shoot first and ask questions
later. The newspaper reported, citing Cameron's account, that police "couldn
't take any chances with a soldier who had won a medal for shooting Afghan
4 de enero de 2007
Posted by Madres contra la Guerra @ 2:36 p.m.