Monday, January 10th

Two words changed the lives of two families on Friday. Two words that a PSS never wants to be associated with. They could lead to anything from a write up to execution depending on the circumstance. You see we are given the special privilege of being allowed to carry a high-powered rifle wherever we go, but it comes with some responsibility. When you use a piece of equipment for so long there may be a point when you begin to trust that the equipment is secured when it may not be. The operator may quit checking his equipment because he just 'knows' that it’s squared away. It is at your most vulnerable moment that these two words will appear and change your life forever; 'Negligent Discharge'.

FTL Yuri was arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter this afternoon. His outstanding service record meant absolutely nothing to the United States Government. Neither did the pleas for mercy from his family and friends. Even within the loosely legal boundaries of the Free Market Policy there was no choice but to charge him. The situation was made even worse for me because I had to sign an affidavit stating that I witnessed the incident. I felt horrible for him, his wife, and his infant daughter. I know he was scared, but I also know that he would be a man about it and cooperate.

We are taught in training to "no shooty blue,” which really translates to 'don't shoot civilians'. It is beat into us mentally with lectures and instructional videos. Unfortunately the occasional accident does still happen. I just wish it wasn't caused by someone like Yuri. If I were put in the same situation as him I only hope that I could have the same amount of courage as he does. He knows the charge, and he knows the punishment. Admitting guilt makes the process go a lot faster; like ripping off a bandage.

I had to go to the courthouse on Friday night for his sentencing. Justice is served quickly on a PSS. I sat with the rest of Yuri's team while he gave his account of what happened to the judge.
"My team and I were on patrol. Tension was still high after the January 3rd attacks. Every movement... every sound... Sir I honestly was scared. We must have hit the deck at least twice in the first five minutes. I'd keep thinking that I heard some rifle fire. Thoughts of other fire fights kept on flooding my mind; so many dead. But sir, when I heard those tires squeal it made me panic. That car was accelerating toward us. I wasn't going to fire until I could confirm the target. It's just that… when the car backfired I flinched and my finger squeezed. I was aiming at the driver. If you take out the driver the others can't get away. It's what I was trained to do. I reported the contact and my team moved up to clear the vehicle. I could tell by the look in their eyes that something was wrong. I walked up to the car and realized what I had done." Yuri began to fight back tears as he continued. "I removed all of my equipment and ordered my LRS to take me into custody. Sir how was I supposed to know that…" he began to cry, "how was I supposed to know?" He buried his face in his hands and was escorted out of the courtroom.

The judge called the witnesses forward. We stood at attention before the judge. He asked us, "Do you concur with the account of the accused and if so how are you related to the account?" Yuri's teammates answered first. I then explained that I was on another patrol and witnessed the act through the scope on my rifle. He asked me why I didn't shoot at the car when I saw what was happening. I told him that from my angle I could tell that it wasn't a company vehicle. He then asked me why I didn't report this to Yuri before he took the shot. I looked him square in the eyes. How dare he try to place some guilt on me! I took a deep breath, "Sir the whole incident only lasted about three to five seconds. THERE WAS NO TIME TO THINK. Only react." His face dropped down to his notepad as he scribbled something.

The punishment for a PSS is hard; even harder than the military. I was there when Yuri climbed the stairs onto the platform. His legs were shaking uncontrollably and he had to be helped up by the guards. His wife was there too. She held their child tight to her chest and rocked back and forth as she cried. Yuri kept his eyes on her until they began to cover his head with a hood. Before it covered his mouth he yelled, "I'm so sorry honey! Please tell our daughter that daddy lo...," his voice was muffled by the hood. What kind of assholes could do that to a man; taking away his final goodbye to his family? The victim's mother was there too. She held a picture of her daughter to her chest as she rocked back and forth and cried. She was late to school and wanted to make it before being tardy so she stomped the gas at the stoplight. Her mother worked a job that didn't allow her to provide the nicest car for her daughter and it occasionally backfired when shifting gears.

I closed my eyes when they wrapped the noose around his head. I didn't open them again until I heard the doctor pronounce his death.

Our company was fined $500,000 for the incident. The family will receive $250,000 of that. All of which is taxable income of course. I expect to see a lawsuit in the papers soon.

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