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The Army plans to reinvestigate a 2007 murder-suicide it originally concluded was 'friendly fire'
The Army has reopened an investigation into the 2007 death of Spc. Kamisha Block, which was originally blamed on friendly fire but has since come under heavy scrutiny.
Block's family was originally told the 20-year-old soldier, a member of the 401st Military Police Company, was killed while deployed to Iraq after one gunshot to the chest. But when her body arrived in Texas, there were "five gunshot wounds, including one to the head," according to Stars and Stripes, which first reported the Army was reopening the case.
The family learned that she had been shot by her boyfriend, Staff Sgt. Paul Brandon Norris, Stars and Stripes reports, who killed himself immediately after killing Block. The relationship between the two was not allowed, given Norris' higher rank and that he was still legally married, though going through a divorce at the time.
A friend of Block's, former sergeant with the 57th Military Police Company James Rattigan, told Stars and Stripes that Norris "never beat her per se," but that he was physical. Another sergeant in Block's platoon, David Womack, described Norris as "very aggressive, very quick to scream and yell and get how about stuff that was not that big of a deal."
Rattigan said he told Block's platoon sergeant about the "volatile situation" between Block and Norris, though he reportedly didn't know anything about it.
Three days later, Norris went into Block's room and "ordered her roommate to leave." He then shot Block, and turned to point the gun at her roommate who had opened the door upon hearing gunshots, and shot himself. Womack told Stars and Stripes that in the days following the shooting, it was "eerie how little it was discussed."
Documents obtained by the Block family through a Freedom of Information Act request show that leadership in the platoon knew about a "perceived" relationship between Block and Norris.
A childhood friend of Block's who also joined the Army, Amanda Simmons, said she grew more suspicious about her friend's murder after she spoke a medic who had tried to help Block. The medic "described cutting Block's bulletproof vest from her body," but Simmons knew that had Block been wearing a bulletproof vest, some of her wounds may have been avoided.
"I said, 'Don't lie to me,'" Simmons told Stars and Stripes. "I said, 'I went to her funeral and spoke to her family. Don't disrespect me and don't disrespect her.' It was very awkward."
Chris Grey, spokesman for Army Criminal Investigation Command, told Task & Purpose that the investigation into Block's death was reopened in August 2018. He declined to comment further, citing the ongoing investigation.
Block's sister, Shonta Block, started digging into her sister's case two years ago. She said she wants Army leadership "court-martialed" for failing to stop her sister's murder.
"I want them to have to pay for the decisions they made that hurt other people," she told Stars and Stripes. "And not just my sister, but other women and other soldiers."
The Air Force's top general says one of the designers of the ride-sharing app Uber is helping the branch build a new data-sharing network that the Air Force hopes will help service branches work together to detect and destroy targets.
The network, which the Air Force is calling the advanced battle management system (ABMS), would function a bit like the artificial intelligence construct Cortana from Halo, who identifies enemy ships and the nearest assets to destroy them at machine speed, so all the fleshy humans need to do is give a nod of approval before resuming their pipe-smoking.
An F-15 is rocking a WWII paint job to honor a B-17 pilot who gave his life to save a wounded crewman
An F-15C Eagle is sporting a badass World War II-era paint job in honor of a fallen bomber pilot who gave everything to ensure his men survived a deadly battle.
A U.S. E-11A Battlefield Airborne Communications Node aircraft crashed on Monday on Afghanistan, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein has confirmed.
Beloved basketball legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and seven other people were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday. Two days earlier, Army Spc. Antonio I. Moore was killed during a vehicle rollover accident while conducting route clearing operations in Syria.
Which one more deserves your grief and mourning? According to Maj. Gen. John R. Evans, commander of the U.S. Army Cadet Command, you only have enough energy for one.
After 70 years, service members are finally filing medical malpractice claims against the US military
Jessica Purcell, a captain in the U.S. Army Reserve, was pregnant with her first child when she noticed a swollen lymph node in her left underarm.
Health-care providers at a MacDill Air Force Base clinic told her it was likely an infection or something related to pregnancy hormones. The following year they determined the issue had resolved itself.
It hadn't. A doctor off base found a large mass in her underarm and gave her a shocking diagnosis: stage 2 breast cancer.
Purcell was pregnant again. Her daughter had just turned 1. She was 35. And she had no right to sue for malpractice.
A 1950 Supreme Court ruling known as the Feres doctrine prohibits military members like Purcell from filing a lawsuit against the federal government for any injuries suffered while on active duty. That includes injury in combat, but also rape and medical malpractice, such as missing a cancer diagnosis.
Thanks in part to Tampa lawyer Natalie Khawam, a provision in this year's national defense budget allows those in active duty to file medical malpractice claims against the government for the first time since the Feres case.
With the Department of Defense overseeing the new claims process, the question now is how fairly and timely complaints will be judged. And whether, in the long run, this new move will help growing efforts to overturn the ruling and allow active duty members to sue like everyone else.