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20 May, 2015 05:39

‘Iraq war vet Brown’s death in jail was murder’: US Army veteran

‘Iraq war vet Brown’s death in jail was murder’: US Army veteran

The death of Sergeant James Brown in a Texas jail was an outrageous “torture operation,” author and US Army veteran Rory Fanning told RT. But the odds that police officers involved get indicted are very low, unless there are massive protests, he added.

A video obtained by KFOX14 has revealed aggressive force being used by officers during Brown’s time in custody in 2012.

“He was clearly tortured. He was calling for help multiple times throughout the video. There was certainly no need for riot gear based on what we saw in the video. It was a torture operation,” Fanning said.

READ MORE: Video of Iraq war vet dying in Texas jail after being mauled by riot guards

Brown, 26, was an active-duty soldier at Fort Bliss, Texas, who had served two tours of combat duty in Iraq and had no previous criminal record. He self-reported to the El Paso County Jail in July 2012 to serve a short sentence for driving while intoxicated.

“He should have been out in two days. He was upset that they are keeping him for seven. It didn’t look like he was being physical in the video, so this was at the very least a case of excessive police brutality, resulting in murder,” Fanning said.

The incident happened overnight when Brown had an apparent episode that caused him to start bleeding. When he stopped communicating with the jail guard outside his cell, a team of officers in riot gear were sent in. Brown was then pinned to the ground.

READ MORE: Meaningful reform or cop-bashing? Lawmakers hold hearings on police

The cause of death was “clearly suffocation,” Fanning said. “There was nothing natural about the cause of death. They used pepper spray, he pleaded for help, they refused medical assistance when they should have administered it.” In the video, Brown was heard repeatedly stating that he could not breathe. He claimed he was choking on his own blood.

“It is particular injustice to this soldier who went overseas, thought he was fighting for freedom and democracy, did two tours in Iraq and then he comes home to be killed by fellow Americans,” said Fanning, author of ‘Worth Fighting For’.

When it comes to justice, things remain unclear, according to the former military man.

“It is very rare to see an indictment for a police officer when they kill somebody… They clearly proven time and time again they are incapable of investigating themselves in a just and timely manner.”

Public attention, protests and calls for justice are the main drivers that could bring the indictment around, just like in the case of Freddie Gray’s death, Fanning said. There is increasing outrage over Brown’s death, particularly in veterans’ community, and the incident has been trending on social media.

READ MORE: Freddie Gray's death ruled 'homicide', charges against all 6 officers involved

“We claim to support our troops in this country. Now it is time to stand up for this soldier who was killed in police custody. We have 22 veterans’ suicide a day in this country, too often we turn our back on our soldiers when they come home,” the author stressed.

Fanning decried the bad US record of police murders, with 900 people killed by police officers each year. In comparison to other countries, the figures appear staggering, he added, citing Iceland as an example, where the only police killing in 2013 caused national grief. The UK has seen only 54 police shootings since 1990, and a total of 1,433 police-related deaths, including those in custody or police pursuit, according to data compiled by inquest.

“It is outrageous and also very unsurprising … This is what you can expect for a country that spends $700 billion a year on its military, has basically eliminated due process around the world in places like Guantanamo. These police officers who often come back from serving in the military are used to treating people.”

Race is also often an issue in the US. “African Americans are 10 times more likely to be arrested than their white counterparts. They are eight times more likely to be killed by the police,” Fanning stated.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.