When Arizona Cardinal’s defensive back Pat Tillman walked away from a multimillion-dollar football contract to join the Army, America was shocked. When he was killed in action, America mourned, and when, a week after his nationally televised funeral, the Army announced that his death was “probably” the result of friendly fire, America was outraged.
Almost 2 years after his death on April 22, 2004, the Army has ordered a criminal investigation on the matter. Whether or not they are investigating the actions of one individual or a group remains to be seen. An army official has stated that the probe will seek to determine whether negligent homicide or some other criminal activity was committed on the night of Tillman’s death.
Pentagon officials told The Associated Press on Saturday that a criminal investigation would focus on possible charges of negligent homicide. The official only spoke on the condition that he would remain anonymous because the new investigation had not formally begun.
A second Pentagon official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said no specific soldier is under investigation at this point. He said investigators would conduct an overall death investigation and “let the facts take them where they may.”
The official said he “wouldn’t want to speculate” as to whether the investigation was focusing on the actions of a particular soldier. The official also said that the investigation, which is the fifth formal investigation into the incident, would focus on the cause of Tillman’s death, and not on whether the previous investigations were done correctly. This investigation is the first criminal probe.
Tillman’s parents have repeatedly been critical over the fact that the Army tried to cover up exactly how their son died. They have continually called for an investigation into the matter and the Army has stated they never stopped looking into the matter.
Tillman was born on November 6, 1976 in San Jose, California. By 1994, Tillman was starting his college career as a linebacker for Arizona State University. Tillman was drafted in the 1998 NFL Draft. It was the NFL’s 2002 season and $3.6 million over three years that Tillman walked away from to join the Army.
Pat Tillman’s family has honored his memory with the creation of the Pat Tillman Foundation. The Foundation’s website (http://www.pattillmanfoundation.org) clearly states its mission: “the Foundation’s goal and mission is to carry Pat’s legacy forward by inspiring people to make positive changes in themselves and in the world around them.”