The U.S. military announced this morning that eight soldiers have been charged in the death of Private Danny Chen, a Lower East Side resident whose body was found at a military base in Kandahar, Afghanistan October 3rd.
In a s statement released by the NATO Command in southern Afghanistan, it was reported that Chen, 19, died of “an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.” Last Friday, 1st Lt. Daniel J. Schwartz, Staff Sgt. Blaine G. Dugas, Staff Sgt. Andrew J. Van Bockel, Sgt. Adam M. Holcomb, Sgt. Jeffrey T. Hurst, Spc. Thomas P. Curtis, Spc. Ryan J. Offutt and Sgt. Travis F. Carden were charged with numerous counts ranging from dereliction of duty to making a false statement to assault, negligent homicide and reckless endangerment.
Military officials declined to release documents detailing the charges or to provide an account of the events leading to Chen’s death. The statement did not make it clear whether investigators believe the soldiers killed Chen or whether their mistreatment of him led Chen to take his own life.
Chen’s parents, who live in the East Village, have been told by military officials that their son was physically and emotionally abused and that he was the victim of ethnic slurs. Community activists and local elected officials met with Pentagon brass last week, demanding answers about Chen’s death but also a commitment to confront anti-Asian harassment in the military. A large rally was held in Chinatown last Thursday evening. Activists said they would insist on “justice for Danny Chen” and accountability from those responsible for his death.