FORT BRAGG — The second of eight soldiers charged in connection with the death of fellow soldier Pvt. Danny Chen, 19, has been sentenced.
Spc. Ryan Offutt, 32, will spend the next six months in military confinement and was discharged from the Army after a plea deal. Chen was found shot and killed by a self-inflicted gun shot wound in October while he was deployed to Afghanistan.
Chen’s family and supporters feel he took his own life due to the hazing and maltreatment he received while overseas. Specialist Offutt was taken away in handcuffs Monday after a judge handed down his sentence.
Offutt pleaded guilty to charges of maltreatment and hazing towards Pvt. Chen. Offutt told the court Monday that he was remorseful for his actions. He apologized to Chen’s family and said he should have reported the bullying and mistreatment of Pvt. Danny Chen instead of partaking.
Chen’s family and supporters left the courthouse Monday in some relief. They say some justice has been served.
“Today brings up some measure of justice. So I think we are all relived that one less superior charged and convicted of racial maltreatment and hazing will no longer be in the United States Military,” said President Organization for Chinese Americans Elizabeth OuYang.
Offutt’s family was not in attendance for Monday’s court martial. Defense attorneys had Offutt’s brother, Brad Tate, testify via telephone from Pennsylvania. Tate told the court he was shocked by the accusations that his brother had mistreated a fellow solider.
Tate testified that when Offutt came home from Afghanistan for a few weeks of leave, he was a changed man, he was impatient and had a temper. Offutt later told the court he thought he was going to die each time they went out on patrols while deployed. Offutt said he was under high stress and depressed and Pvt. Chen was an outlet for those frustrations.
There are six other solider charged in relation to Chen’s death. Several of those Court Martials will also take place at Fort Bragg. The first soldier to stand trial was Sgt. Adam Holcomb. He was convicted of assault and maltreatment of Chen, but acquitted on charges causing his death. Holcomb is serving a 30-day military prison sentence and was demoted to Specialist but allowed to remain in the army.