The Defense Department's inspector general is reviewing the Army's investigations into the friendly-fire death of Cpl. Patrick Tillman after repeated assertions from the soldier's family that the probes did not hold officials accountable for wrongdoing and did not fully explain the shooting in Afghanistan last year.
Pentagon officials said yesterday that the inspector general is going to review the previous investigations into the former NFL player's death after the Army's request for an independent assessment. Tillman's mother and father have separately railed against the Army for what they have said were repeated lies about the nature of their son's death and what they view as an official coverup.
Tillman was killed on April 22, 2004, while fighting with his Army Ranger unit in the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan, near the Pakistani border. Tillman was shot multiple times by soldiers in his unit who told investigators they mistook him for the enemy in a twilight fight in a rocky canyon.
Officials in Afghanistan then burned Tillman's uniform and body armor. They filed reports saying that Tillman had been killed by enemy fire while charging up a hill, ordered other soldiers in the unit not to discuss the incident, and then honored Tillman with a Silver Star. Army officials waited until weeks after a public memorial service in the United States to tell the family that they believed it was a friendly-fire case.
The Pentagon review comes after more than a year of Army investigations and internal reviews about the case. Brig. Gen. Gary M. Jones asked for the independent review after Tillman's father, Patrick Tillman Sr., and his mother, Mary Tillman, continued to press for information, according to Army officials.
"What I expect to get out of this is the truth, and nothing but," Patrick Tillman Sr. said yesterday. "I have high hopes."