LCpl Stephen Tatumís Statement
to the Investigating Officer (As recalled by legal counsel)
Pendleton / Article 32 hearing / July 24, 2007
closing arguments in his Article 32 hearing, LCpl Tatum made a
statement to the hearing officer, LtCol Paul Ware.
corporal spoke. He did not read a statement, or speak from notes.
After so much obfuscation by prosecution witnesses, it was time for
some plain talk and that is what LCpl Tatum did.
following is a non-verbatim recollection (provided by attorney Jack B.
Zimmermann) ) of the lance corporal's statement, given on 24 July
2007. I emphasize this is from memory, not a recording. A transcript
of the hearing will not be available to legal counsel until late in
Tatumís Statement to the Investigating Officer
(As recalled by legal counsel)
There are some
points Iíd like to bring to light.
The reason I
fired in house 1 is that I knew small arms fire was coming from the
south. I didnít see where it was coming from, but I saw an M203 round
hit house 1. My squad leader told me on the way to house 1 to treat it
I heard a
Marine engage a target after entering the house, and I knew Mendoza
engaged a target to the right inside the house. I
heard an AK-47 being racked in the room to the left, and me and Cpl
Salinas threw grenades in that room.
grenade went off, I went in and followed my training firing in my
was horrible. There was dust and smoke. I really couldnít make out
more than targets. Someone yelled there was a runner, so I followed
my fire team to house 2.
entered, Mendoza engaged someone through the door. Inside, I was told
to frag a room. When I saw that room was clear, I heard another
Marine engage in the next room. My duty was to help that Marine, so I
went in and engaged targets.
It was dark, I
couldnít make out a whole lot. Just targets. I only went in each room
a few steps, and the shooting lasted only seconds in both houses.
I did not tell
NCIS I knew there were women and children before I fired. I did not
know there was women and children in that house until I went back
later in the afternoon with SSgt Laughner. Otherwise, I would have
physically stopped everybody from shooting. The conversation Mendoza
said happened never happened.
I am not
comfortable with the fact that I might have shot a child. I donít
know if my rounds impacted anybody. That is a burden I will have to
Marine Lance Cpl. Stephen B. Tatum, right,
arrives with his
civilian defense attorney Jack Zimmerman, for his Article 32 Hearing
Pendleton Marine Corps Base in San Diego County
Monday, July 16, 2007. (AP