Yesterday, the U.S. military announced the eight soldiers would be charged in the death of Private Danny Chen. The 19-year-old Chinatown resident was found dead at an outpost in Afghanistan, due to a "self-inflicted gunshot wound" but it was revealed that he had been taunted and physically harassed by fellow soldiers.
According to Chen's family, he "was dragged by the bullies out of his bed, pelted with stones, hung upside down while his mouth was full of a liquid, and mocked as 'Jackie Chan.'" His weeping mother, seamstress Su Zhen Chen, said at a press conference, "When Danny joined the Army, I didn’t want him to go," while his father, Yan Tao Chen, who works as a cook, said, "He was our only son and of course we miss him so much, especially during the holidays."
The NY Times has more detail about Chen dealing with racial taunts:
In a journal he kept while in basic training and in letters, Private Chen mentioned that other soldiers teased him because of his ethnicity. “Everyone here jokingly makes fun of me for being Asian,” he said in one letter to his parents. In another letter two days later, he wrote, “People crack jokes about Chinese people all the time; I’m running out of jokes to come back at them.”
At a news conference on Wednesday, a Pentagon spokesman would not discuss details about the case, but he acknowledged that hazing, while against the rules of the military, occasionally occurred among its members. He insisted that the armed forces had a zero-tolerance policy toward it.
“We treat each other with respect and dignity, or we go home,” the spokesman, Capt. John Kirby, said. “There’s a justice system in place to deal with it. And that’s what we’re seeing here in the case of Private Chen.”
The eight soldiers remain in Afghanistan and will be tried there. Five were accused of involuntary manslaughter, negligent homicide and assault consummated by battery—Staff Sgt. Andrew J. Van Bockel, Sgt. Adam M. Holcomb, Sgt. Jeffrey T. Hurst, Specialist Thomas P. Curtis and Specialist Ryan J. Offutt—Lt. Daniel J. Schwartz was charged with dereliction of duty, Sgt. Travis F. Carden was charged with assault and maltreatment, and Staff Sgt. Blaine G. Dugas was charged with dereliction of duty and making a false statement, according to the Times.
The Daily News reports that Offutt had a criminal past: "A decade earlier, Offutt was charged with aggravated assault and attempted rape in October 2001, according to Pennsylvania court records. Offutt wound up pleading guilty to simple assault and indecent assault. He was sentenced to four months to two years in prison, but it’s unclear how long he served. He was also required to undergo drug and alcohol treatment."