Air Force to take over ‘Trust’ case

The Air Force has taken over an investigation of an airman accused of fatally shooting another airman during a game of “Trust.”

Airman 1st Class Corey Hernandez allegedly shot Senior Airman Michael Garcia on Dec. 11 while playing the game at an apartment near Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., where the two were stationed.

Hernandez’s civilian lawyer, James Martin Davis, told Air Force Times in December that Garcia brought out a .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun, gave it to Hernandez, and said, “Trust me. Now point it at me and shoot.”

Hernandez had been charged with manslaughter and use of a weapon to commit a felony in Sarpy County Court, the local civilian jurisdiction. It is not yet known what charges he will face in military court. The Air Force will complete the investigation begun by Sarpy County officials, said Offutt spokesman Ryan Hansen. Lt. Col. Randy Sparks — commander of Hernandez’s unit, the 55th Communications Squadron — will then make a recommendation and send it up the chain of command.

Sarpy County Attorney Lee Kenneth Polikov said the Air Force requested jurisdiction over the case, and it was appropriate to hand over control because Garcia, Hernandez, and all witnesses were on active duty.

Other service members have received significant time in the brig for Trust-game-related deaths.

Marine Corps Cpl. Mathew Nelson pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and seven counts of reckless endangerment in September 2009 for an incident in which he shot and killed a 21-year-old lance corporal. He was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Airman 1st Class Kyle Dalton is serving a 10-year sentence for killing Airman 1st Class Carl Ware Jr. in 2006, although it is was never confirmed that the two were playing Trust. Dalton was originally charged with murder, but later pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter by culpable negligence.

Related reading

* Police: Airman dead in ‘Trust’ game

* Marine Corps Times: Can deadly ‘Trust’ game be stopped?

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