A Stryker soldier who allegedly helped beat up a private during their deployment in southern Afghanistan will appear before an Army investigating officer today at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The hearing will help determine whether he will be court-martialed.
Staff Sgt. David Bram, 27, of Vacaville, Calif., faces charges that he joined an assault on Pfc. Justin Stoner that was intended to keep Stoner from speaking to superior officers about drug use at Forward Operating Base Ramrod.
Bram is among a dozen soldiers in the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division who stand accused of various crimes during their deployment earlier this year. Five of the soldiers are awaiting trials on charges that they killed Afghan civilians.
Stoner led Army investigators to the unit when he drew attention to soldiers he said were smoking hashish in a room he shared with another soldier.
Two days later, word got back to others that Stoner had blown the whistle about drug use. That’s when six soldiers allegedly assaulted him in the room.
In a sworn statement to Army investigators, Stoner said Bram started the assault by pinning him against a wall by his neck. Stoner said other soldiers then punched and kicked him below his neck where bruises wouldn’t readily show.
“They intentionally made it so that there were no visual signs ...” Stoner said. “Before leaving the room, somebody made a threat that if I said something, they would just kill me out on a mission.”
Bram is charged with being part of a conspiracy to commit assault and battery, unlawfully striking another soldier, violating a general order by keeping photographs of Afghan casualties, failing to dispose of an AK-47 firearm that was taken from an Afghan soldier, choking a soldier in such a way as to constitute cruelty and maltreatment, and trying to impede an investigation.
The U.S. Military Code of Justice specifies different penalties for assault, depending on the severity and circumstances. Generally, the penalties call for a court-martial and fewer than five years in prison.
Bram and Stoner were both called to testify as witnesses during a hearing last month in a related case. Both declined to testify, citing the 5th Amendment.
At today’s hearing, an investigating officer will consider evidence against Bram, then make a recommendation about whether he should stand trial.
Lt. Gen. Curtis “Mike” Scaparrotti, the new commanding general at Lewis-McChord, has the final decision on whether Bram will go to trial.
Adam Ashton: 253-597-8646 firstname.lastname@example.org