Killing an Innocent or Executing an Insurgent?

The Purist

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This description only makes things look worse for the shooter. The shooting of a wounded and unconscience (?) prisoner would be very tough to justify considering the US subscribes to the Geneva conventions and the 'rules of war'.

This lad may be prosecuted as an example (scapegoat?) to show that the US military does not condone such behavior. As I said above, these things happen in every war, this time the camera may prevent the 'oh, well, it's war' explanation.

Edit: I would add that I , personally, am not condeming the marine in question.
 
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Crash

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CPangracs

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Crash said:
Obviously, Military command thought there was enough to warrant an investigation. Maybe they should bring it up with their command.

The officer is the one that needs some press. He seems to be impressive.
Any situation outside of outright combat is always investigated, even more so when a reporter is present. I'm inclined to say that there is no more impetus to bring on an investigation in this incident than any other vice the presence of someone who is not trained in the myriad facets of war.
 

Deltapooh

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Another questionable shooting incident

THE CONFLICT IN IRAQ
Mercy and Murder at Issue in Iraq Death
Two U.S. soldiers face charges after taking life of injured youth. They say he was already gone.
By Edmund Sanders
Times Staff Writer

November 5, 2004

BAGHDAD — As a U.S. Army patrol rolled into Sadr City one night in August, soldiers received a tip that militants in dump trucks were planting roadside bombs.

American troops had been clashing regularly with Al Mahdi militiamen in the restive Baghdad slum. So when Staff Sgt. Cardenas Alban of Carson saw an object fall from a garbage truck in the distance, his company took positions around the vehicle and unleashed a barrage of fire from rifles and a 25-millimeter cannon atop a Bradley fighting vehicle. The truck exploded in flames.

As soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, approached the burning vehicle, they did not find insurgents. The victims were mainly teenagers, hired to work the late shift picking up trash for about $5 a night, witnesses said.

Medics scrambled to treat the half-dozen people strewn around the scene. A dispute broke out among a handful of soldiers standing over one severely wounded young man who was moaning in pain. An uninjured Iraqi claiming to be a relative pleaded in broken English for soldiers to help the victim.

But to the horror of bystanders, Alban, 29, a boyish-faced sergeant who joined the Army in 1997, retrieved an M-231 assault rifle and fired at the wounded man.

Seconds later, another soldier, Staff Sgt. Johnny Horne Jr., 30, of Winston-Salem, N.C., grabbed an M-16 rifle and also shot the victim.

The killing might have been forgotten but for a U.S. soldier who days later slipped an anonymous note under the door of the unit's commander, Capt. Robert Humphries, alleging that "soldiers had committed serious crimes that needed to be looked at."

U.S. officials have since characterized the shooting as a "mercy killing," citing statements by Alban and Horne that they shot the wounded Iraqi "to put him out of his misery."

Military attorneys, however, are calling it premeditated murder and have charged the two sergeants, saying the victim's suffering was no excuse for the soldiers' actions.

"I have no doubt that's why they did it," said Capt. John Maloney, one of the military attorneys prosecuting the case.

"But it still constitutes murder."

Military attorneys in Baghdad said they were unaware of any legal precedent justifying "mercy killing" in a war zone, though such circumstances could be considered during sentencing.

Iraqis who witnessed the Aug. 18 shooting said that rather than provide medical help to an injured civilian, the soldiers treated the Iraqi as if he were an animal struck by a car.

"We are not sheep," said Emad Raheem, 40, who said he was the driver of the dump truck. "We are human beings."

Seven Iraqis were killed in the attack, including the one who was shot, military officials said. Eight others were wounded.

Alban and Horne — both on their second tour in Iraq — and their attorneys declined to comment. In statements to military investigators, both acknowledged shooting the Iraqi but have not entered formal pleas. They are facing Article 32 hearings in Baghdad, which will determine whether there is enough evidence to begin court-martial proceedings. If convicted, the soldiers could receive the death penalty.

The case — one of about a dozen murder cases filed against U.S. troops in Iraq — is fueling a debate about the conduct of American forces here and the treatment of Iraqi civilians, particularly in the aftermath of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

Two other soldiers in Alban's unit, from Ft. Riley, Kansas, also are under investigation for what military officials say were the premeditated murders of three Iraqi civilians in separate cases.

In September, a U.S. reservist was sentenced to 25 years for killing a teenage Iraqi national guard soldier after a sexual encounter in an observation tower. The soldier said he lost control because of traumatic memories of childhood abuse, but family members of the victim accused the American of assaulting the Iraqi and then shooting him to cover it up.

"These crimes represent the pinnacle of American oppression and violence," said Mudaffar Battat, editor of a Sadr City newspaper.

The identity of the Iraqi killed by Alban and Horne remains unclear. U.S. military officials say they can't verify the individual's name because they never collected his personal information, did not interview or compensate family members and then lost track of his body. They suspect that his body was taken by Iraqi police and buried.

Iraqi witnesses found by The Times identified the victim as Qassim Hassan, 16, who had joined his brother and several cousins that night to earn extra money. They said their group of 15 was traveling in three dump trucks about 1:30 a.m. and had just passed through a military checkpoint when they were attacked.

"Most of [the victims] were poor teenagers," said Heider Ali Ismail, 21, who drove one of the trucks. "We were finishing up and just about to unload the trucks."

Hassan sat in the back of one of the trucks amid the rubbish, which ignited after the American soldiers fired.

Hassan's cousin, Ahmed Majid, said in an interview that Hassan's clothing caught fire and he struggled to jump off the truck, falling to the ground unconscious.

Military officials would not confirm whether Hassan was the same person shot by the soldiers. Majid and Raheem said they had been invited to testify at a military hearing Saturday.

Accounts of the incident by U.S. and Iraqi witnesses bear some similarities, but the two sides disagree on other aspects of the attack, including the extent of injuries suffered by the Iraqi.

Alban and Horne said in confessions that the man they shot was severely wounded and unlikely to survive. They said they watched him moan and writhe in pain until they could stand it no longer.

Sgt. Jacob E. Smith, an Army medic who helped treat the wounded Iraqis, testified that the victim's limbs were severely burned and his intestines were spilling out.

"Everything from his ribs to his hips was gone," Smith said. "He was in bad shape. He was going to die." Another witness said the man's spinal cord was exposed.

Majid said his cousin was unconscious and struggling to breathe, but his only injuries were burns. He said he pleaded with soldiers to help his cousin and his brother, who was still trapped in the burning truck. But when he tried to help Hassan, he said, a soldier pushed him away, saying, "Shut up and go!" Then the soldier shot his cousin, he said.

After the shooting, Majid said he saw two soldiers appearing to argue about the incident.

At a recent military hearing in Baghdad, an Army gunner, Spc. William Davis, testified that the two sergeants initially asked him to shoot the wounded Iraqi. Davis said he refused.

He described how an uninjured Iraqi male pleaded with Horne not to kill the wounded Iraqi on the ground.

"The guy was saying, 'No,' " Davis testified. " 'He's my brother! He's my brother!' "

According to Davis, Horne replied, "I understand, but he's gone."

Then, after consulting with the platoon leader and briefly debating what sort of weapon to use, Alban and Horne shot the Iraqi, according to testimony at the recent hearing. Horne told investigators that he believed the Iraqi was alive after Alban's first shot, so he shot him as well.

The platoon leader, Lt. Erick Anderson, remains under investigation but has not been charged. At a recent hearing, Anderson refused to testify, invoking his right against self-incrimination.

Majid said his family received a total of $7,500 in compensation for the deaths of Hassan, another cousin and his brother.

Efforts to find Iraqi witnesses were made only after an attorney for Alban criticized the government at a hearing for failing to do enough to track down the victim's family.

"The witnesses should have the opportunity to have their day in court," said Capt. Catherine Robinson, a military attorney appointed to represent Alban.

"Those Iraqis were there," she said. "They were in the dump truck. They know what happened. They know what happened to their cousins, brothers and whoever else was there."

Government attorneys said the lack of records at the Iraqi police department and the dangerous conditions in Sadr City had hampered their investigation." There are security issues," said Capt. Emily Schiffer, chief of the legal unit that is pressing the case. "Also there are a lot of holes in the accountability" of the Iraqi police.

Investigators said the lack of a body or autopsy report could also hinder the investigation.

"If we don't have a body, we really don't have a case," Special Agent Herman Vanderhorst, the lead criminal investigator, testified.

Horne, who joined the Army in 1999, has been negotiating a plea bargain with military officials, attorneys said.

The initial attack by U.S. soldiers on the garbage truck is also under investigation to determine whether it was appropriate to open fire without warning. Military officials declined to provide details, saying an inquiry was underway.

Iraqis caught in the attack said they wanted an explanation.

"The Americans were acting like real cowboys," Raheem said. "I was just doing my job. There was nothing to suggest we were armed. Why did they open fire on us? I'm still waiting for an answer to that question."
I believe an investigation is warranted. The circumstances surrounding the shooting does invoke legal concerns.

Sometimes making sure the enemy is dead is warranted. Military hostage-rescue ops, for example, might demand such tactics.

If the article is accurate, the Marine is in trouble. He faced a situation similar to the Marines the day before. There were wounded Iraqis after an engagement. Yet, those Marines didn't react like the Marine on Saturday.

Of course, I don't think we have all the facts. Factors to consider include:

1. Did the Marine attempt to illicit a response from insurgent
2. Were search procedures followed, if not why? There are methods for searching a severely injured or dead combatant for boobytraps. It can be time consuming.....

The Purist said:
his lad may be prosecuted as an example (scapegoat?) to show that the US military does not condone such behavior. As I said above, these things happen in every war, this time the camera may prevent the 'oh, well, it's war' explanation.
I hope the Marine doesn't become a scapegoat. The incident must not be reviewed just in hindsight. Investigators have to try and walk in the shoes of the soldier to best understand his mindset. Combat is rarely a black and white affair with easy to follow guidelines. We break one of the basic rules (killing) by engaging in war, which further complicate matters.
 

jthomas

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DevilDawg said:
Very justified.
Only thing I didn't like was he didn't put 2 in him to be sure.
:mad:
He's a US Marine- he only needed 1 shot to be SURE!

IMHO, those of us sitting in our comfy chairs in front of computer screens (this includes all those hand-wringers in the media) are in no position to pass judgement. I have never experienced combat (Thank You, Lord) as this young Marine has. Let his true peers be his judges.

That said, however, getting on my little soap box: I hate that the Marine was ever put in that position. Clear the room with a few grenades first, then take a look-see. In any case, that TERRORIST ("insurgent" my A$$) hung around a bit too long, and was justly rewarded for his efforts.

The Marine will probably relive this event in his mind every day for the rest of his life. How many of those hostage-beheading animals will do the same?
 

Scout Out

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This article was found on yahoo. It may not be the latest news but its here to read.

By STEVEN R. HURST, Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK - The U.S. military is investigating the videotaped fatal shooting of a wounded and apparently unarmed Iraqi prisoner by a U.S. Marine in a mosque in Fallujah, a Marine spokesman said.

The dramatic footage was taken Saturday by pool correspondent Kevin Sites of NBC television, who said three other prisoners wounded a day earlier in the mosque had also apparently been shot the next day by the Marines.

The incident played out as the Marines 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment, returned to the unidentified Fallujah mosque Saturday. Sites was embedded with the unit.

Sites reported that a different Marine unit had come under fire from the mosque on Friday. Those Marines stormed the building, killing 10 men and wounding five, Sites said. The Marines said the fighters in the mosque had been armed with rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47 rifles.

The Marines had treated the wounded, he reported, left them behind and continued on Friday with their drive to retake the city from insurgents who have been battling U.S.-led occupation forces in Iraq (news - web sites) with increasing ferocity and violence in recent months.

The same five men were still in the mosque on Saturday, Sites reported.

On the video, as the camera moved into the mosque during the Saturday incident, a Marine can be heard shouting obscenities in the background, yelling that one of the men was only pretending to be dead.

"He's (expletive) faking he's dead!"

"Yeah, he's breathing," another Marine is heard saying.

"He's faking he's (expletive) dead!" the first Marine says.

The video then showed a Marine raising his rifle toward a prisoner lying on the floor of the mosque. The video shown by NBC and provided to the network pool was blacked out at that point and did not show the bullet hitting the man. But a rifle shot could be heard.

"He's dead now," a Marine is heard saying.

The shooting is shown so quickly that it is impossible to tell whether the body was moving before the shot. The only movement which can be seen is the body flinching at the moment the bullet hits.

The camera then shows two Americans pointing weapons at another Iraqi lying motionless. But one of the Marines steps back as the man stretches out his hand, motioning that he is alive. The other Marine stands his ground, but neither of them fires.

The blacked out portion of the videotape, provided later to Associated Press Television News and other members of the network pool, showed the bullet striking the man in the upper body, possibly the head. His blood splatters on the wall behind him and his body goes limp.

Sites reported a Marine in the same unit had been killed just a day earlier when he tended to the booby-trapped dead body of an insurgent.

NBC reported that the Marine seen shooting the wounded Iraqi had himself been shot in the face the day before, but quickly returned to duty.


A spokesman at Marine Corps headquarters in the Pentagon (news - web sites), Maj. Doug Powell, said the incident was "being investigated." He had no further details, other than to confirm the incident happened on Saturday and that the Marines involved were part of the 1st Marine Division.

On Tuesday, the U.S. military said the 1st Marine Division is investigating an allegation of the unlawful use of force in the death of an enemy combatant in Fallujah during combat operations Saturday.

The Marine has been withdrawn from the battlefield pending the results of the investigation, the U.S. military said.

"We follow the law of armed conflict and hold ourselves to a high standard of accountability," said Lt. Gen. John F. Sattler, commanding general of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. "The facts of this case will be thoroughly pursued to make an informed decision and to protect the rights of all persons involved."

The International Committee of the Red Cross, which is mandated to uphold the Geneva Conventions on warfare, had no immediate comment, said spokeswoman Rana Sidani. She said she was trying to contact ICRC representatives in Iraq to find out what they had been able to determine about the case.

The Third Geneva Convention, the section of the 1949 treaty that applies to prisoners of war, says "persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat (out of combat) by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely."

It adds that "the wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for."

The judge advocate general heading the investigation, Lt. Col. Bob Miller, told NBC News that depending on the evidence, it could be reasonable to conclude the Marine was acting in self-defense.

"The policy of the rules of engagement authorize the Marines to use force when presented with a hostile act or hostile intent," Miller said. "So they would have to be using force in self-defense, yes."

"Any wounded — in this case insurgents — who don't pose a threat would not be considered hostile," said Miller.

Charles Heyman, a senior defense analyst with Jane's Consultancy Group in Britain, defended the Marine's actions, saying it was possible the wounded man was concealing a firearm or grenade.

"You can hear the tension in those Marines' voices. One is showing, 'He's faking it. He's faking it,'" Heyman said. "In a combat infantry soldier's training, he is always taught that his enemy is at his most dangerous when he is severely wounded."

If the injured man makes even the slightest move, "in my estimation they would be justified in shooting him."

The events on the videotape began as some of the Marines from the unit accompanied by Sites approached the mosque on Saturday, a day after it was stormed by other Marines.

Gunfire can be heard from inside the mosque, and at its entrance, Marines who were already in the building emerge. They are asked by an approaching Marine lieutenant if there were insurgents inside and if the Marines had shot any of them. A Marine can be heard responding affirmatively. The lieutenant then asks if they were armed and fellow Marine shrugs.

Sites' account said the wounded men, who he said were prisoners and who were hurt in the previous day's attack, had been shot again by the Marines on the Saturday visit.

The videotape showed two of the wounded men propped against the wall and Sites said they were bleeding to death. According to his report, a third wounded man appeared already dead, while a fourth was severely wounded but breathing. The fifth was covered by a blanket but did not appear to have been shot again after the Marines returned. It was the fourth man who was shown being shot.

Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera showed the unabridged version of the Fallujah mosque shooting tape, complete with one name visible on a backpack and the faces of the Marines, which were not shown on U.S. networks. There was no immediate comment on the tape from Middle Eastern governments because of a Muslim holiday.

The CNN broadcast of the pictures obscured parts of the video that could lead to public identification of the Marines involved.

NBC's Robert Padavick told members of the U.S. television pool that the Pentagon had ordered NBC and other pool members to make sure the Marine's identity was hidden because "they (the military authorities) are anticipating a criminal investigation as a result of this incident and do not want to implicate anybody ahead of that."

In New York, NBC spokeswoman Allison Gollust said the network did not broadcast the prisoner being shot because of its "graphic nature."
I'll just say IMHO, the Marine is innocent until proven guilty. The rules of war exsist to minimize such alleged incidents, yet life or death dominates the battlefield. Actions that have been committed by the enemy are well documented by the media. Marines and soldiers have a duty to protect each other. A threat seen by one man is not going to be questioned, it will be acted on. The ramifications are for an unknown future. Right or Wrong is not the question. Survival is.
my 2 cents... :flag:
 

last_cav1971

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trauth116 said:
Taps fingers on my computer desk - waits for the usual suspects to arrive... decides to comment while waiting.


I agree with Last Cav, these people are not concerned about fighting us fairly - or abiding by any particular laws - so imo - you do what you have to - to save your own rear end - I was watching Fox - and I have to say - I have no respect at all for Col North- I mean I lost a lot of it when he muffed his D-Day special - the man does not know history - but sitting there ringing his hands -and not explaining it as succintly as
Last Cav and Curt did ... well to me that was just pathetic. These reporters - imo have no idea at all about what happens in a war zone --- maybe a little required reading might give these journalism grads a little perspective on reality -and life and death.

I think the soldier acted appropriately (and not that differently from soldiers in the past - nationality being irrelevant) based upon the footage shown.
Agreed..........110%...........

Mark
Deo Vindice
 

DevilDawg

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jthomas said:
He's a US Marine- he only needed 1 shot to be SURE!

IMHO, those of us sitting in our comfy chairs in front of computer screens (this includes all those hand-wringers in the media) are in no position to pass judgement. I have never experienced combat (Thank You, Lord) as this young Marine has. Let his true peers be his judges.

That said, however, getting on my little soap box: I hate that the Marine was ever put in that position. Clear the room with a few grenades first, then take a look-see. In any case, that TERRORIST ("insurgent" my A$$) hung around a bit too long, and was justly rewarded for his efforts.

The Marine will probably relive this event in his mind every day for the rest of his life. How many of those hostage-beheading animals will do the same?
True.
 

The Doctor

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We need more information. If it was very clear that the insurgent was disarmed and posed no threat; there could be a legal problem. If the Marine had the slightest concern the insurgent was booby-trapped or feigning death as an ambush tactic, he was completly justified.

The big problem is the propaganda value this becomes to the Jihadists. I've already heard the cries of "the Koran forbids the killing of wounded prisoners!". I guess it only forbids the killing of Islamic prisoners by infidels - the jihadists seem to have very little compunction about killing prisoners.

We're right back to the Abu Graib dicotomy:

It's OK to behead infidels; while it's a crime against humanity to embarass an Islamic male in front of females.

It's OK to murder the CARE director for Iraq and to booby-trap dead bodies; while it's a war crime to 'shoot first and ask questions later' in a combat situation.

It doesn't make what the Marine did right - but it has to be viewed in perspective!
 

The Purist

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I think the body language of the soldiers in the video will go against the accused. They do not look 'on guard' or as if they expect any trouble at all. The relaxed nature of the marines speaks of a lack of 'imminent danger'.

Further, according to the reporter, the group he was with heard gun shots from within the building as they approached and stated that the wounds appeared very fresh. This may grow into more than a single killing and into something far more ugly.
 
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ER_Chaser

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It is a war, people get killed.

American marine, american army is just an army .... lol ... what do you think they are? Saints? Gods?

But at the same time, remember, your opponents are also human beings, they want to protect what they believe, and they fight their way. i.e., you use your high tech weapons and economic powers, they use their own lives and booby traps. nothing special here, it is just a war.

After all, it will be the victor who writes the history. So "win the war first and then talk about it".
 

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I have to stay from reading the different news reports, that the media has played this out in a pretty fair way. For example, when I heard about this on NPR this morning, the reporter explained what happened with both possible justifications for the incident (booby traps etc.) along with saying that the Marine may have been wrong in doing what he did. Personally, I think it was understandable what the Marine did. I'm not saying it was right or wrong, just understandable.
 

Crash

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ER_Chaser said:
It is a war, people get killed.
Sure shit happens in war, but criminals should be forced to stand trial.

The purpose of the convention is to protect your own soldiers. If you do not follow the convention then you should have no complaints when atrocities are committed against you.

If your signature means nothing then how can we force others to honor theirs?
 

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Just the day before, a mere block away from this scene, Marines were injured when a booby-trapped body exploded. What can you expect from these guys............I stand behind his actions one way or the other.

Mark
Deo Vindice
 

GeorgiaDixie

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Does anyone else here get really tired of these stupid embedded reporters? The public doesn't need to know the exact operations as they happen. Maybe just an embedded camerman, who is a soldier himself, like in WWII. That'd be a hell of a lot of better.
 

last_cav1971

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GeorgiaDixie said:
Does anyone else here get really tired of these stupid embedded reporters? The public doesn't need to know the exact operations as they happen. Maybe just an embedded camerman, who is a soldier himself, like in WWII. That'd be a hell of a lot of better.
Exactly.........where is the 'Ernie Pyle' from WWII?
Thats the media type we need.

Mark
Deo Vindice
 

Ivan Rapkinov

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regardless of whether he was booby trapped or not - you don;t shoot first.

what if he had a dead man's switch for his "booby trap"?

I've been up close and personal in the nastiest urban warfare out there, and you NEVER shoot an unarmed person for a few simple reasons

a) non-combatant - but possibly has info
b) combatant - definitely has info
c) dead man switch - can be as simple as a guy sitting on a grenade - he moves, boom.

I saw all three reasons in action, and the only time I didn' see them carried out like that was in room clearing ops - which generally involved more than a few grenades "sanitising" the room before entry.
 

Overseer

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The Purist said:
"This is what happens when the media is allowed places they shouldnt be............ "

Last_Cav,...you are not suggesting that the constitutional right to a free press be denied are you? Without the media being present who would provide you with all that combat video that is posted to this forum that so many giggle and hoot over.

These events have occurred in every army, in every war. This time it was caught on tape, which is what will shock the viewing public. I am not saying it was justified or unjustified, we do not have the facts and the inquiry will examine the details.

The questions I have are:

Were they disarmed the day before when first taken prisoner? The video does not show weapons near the bodies (as far as I could tell).

Was the prisoner awake or unconscience when he was shot? If unconscience it is unlikely he could show his hands were empty. The fact that he was breathing simply means he was still alive,...not that he was "faking" he was dead.

If it turns out the man was unconscience and unarmed, it will probably go very bad for the soldier who did the shooting.

I would not mind seeing a full text of the words spoken as well as being able to examine the video (without the actual shooting).

We should be careful with the media in certain situations. I wouldn't be surprised that if we had the same level of reporting in World War I and World War II as we did in say Vietnam, that there would have been a lot of outcry against the war during its course.
 
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