Marines Arrested During Formation Ruled Unlawful by Military Judge
Sixteen Marines arrested during the morning formation in July at Camp Pendleton have a new ruling calling those arrests into question. All 16 of the Marines were hauled out of the formation and accused of human smuggling in front of 800 members of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. The ruling by Col Stephen Keane stated that such a mass arrest in front of the battalion was unlawful and violated their rights.
Defense attorneys alleged that the arrests were an unlawful exercise of command over the human smuggling case. They were happy about the Marine Judge’s ruling, though it is unclear what will happen to the charges against the men. Three of the Marines charged were dismissed previously.
“It sends a signal to the government, I’m not going to tolerate, and we should not tolerate, a command basically imposing the verdict before the court is ever held…The public humiliation of my client and others in the case was wrong. It was illegal and the Marine Corps’ attempt to try to influence the outcome of this case and poison the jury pool.” Bethany Payton-O’Brien, Defense Attorney
According to the San Diego Union Tribune,
“[Lt. Col. Eric] Olson, Dorsey and the lead NCIS agent on the case, Katelyn Thompson, all testified that the arrests were done in front of the formation to preserve evidence and ensure safety, because some Marines were suspected of weapons offenses.
However the Judge, Marine Col. Stephen Keane, rejected that argument, saying that if there was a concern about weapons being involved, then inviting 800 Marines to witness the arrests did not suggest safety.
Public affairs officers from the 1st Marine Division also testified about comments they made to the news media after the July arrests and about the decision to capture the arrests on video.”
One commander was said to refer to the men as a “cancer” in the unit after the men were arrested.
Judge Keane told prosecutors they have one week to come up with a remedy for the egregious violation of the men’s rights. The cases could be dismissed if they do not comply with the Judge’s order.
Featured photo: screenshot of the arrest via US Marine Corps