An Army sergeant was found not guilty yesterday of the most serious charges in connection with last year’s death of Private Danny Chen. Adam Holcomb was the first of eight soldiers to face court martial in North Carolina. A military jury found Holcomb guilty of two counts of “maltreatment” and one count of assault. But he was found not guilty of negligent homicide, reckless endangerment, communicating a threat and hazing.
Chen, a Chinatown native, committed suicide at an Army base in Afghanistan last October. Community activists and Chen’s parents attended the trial. Today sentencing deliberations get underway. Holcomb faces up to two years in prison. Last night, City Council member Margaret Chin, who was in North Carolina for part of the trial, released the following statement:
This decision is an affront to the Chen family and to servicemen and women across our country… Never before has the pervasiveness of hazing and bullying in our armed forces been so exposed. Sgt. Holcomb physically and verbally abused Private Chen. His campaign of abhorrent and racist behavior was unrelenting, and it caused Private Chen’s death. By failing to uphold the most serious charges in this case, the military has effectively condoned Sgt. Holcomb’s conduct… This case has gained national attention and our calls for justice will not end… The military must enforce their zero-tolerance policy for bullying and hazing. This culture of abuse is unacceptable.