Coast Guard crewmembers face courts-martial in San Diego Bay boat collision case

ALAMEDA, Calif. — Three members of a Coast Guard boat crew involved in a fatal collision in San Diego Bay late last year face courts-martial for criminal charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Rear Admiral Joseph Castillo, commander of the 11th Coast Guard District, decided to proceed with courts-martial following an Article 32 investigation into the incident. The dates and locations for the trials have not been determined.

Lady JusticeThose charged and the types of courts-martial are:

Petty Officer Paul A. Ramos, the boat coxswain, charged with involuntary manslaughter (Article 119), negligent homicide (Article 134), aggravated assault (Article 128), negligently hazarding a vessel (Article 110), and dereliction of duty (Article 92), referred to general court-martial.

Petty Officer Ian M. Howell, charged with negligent homicide (Article 134), assault (Article 128), negligently suffering a vessel to be hazarded (Article 110), and dereliction of duty (Article 92), referred to special court-martial.

Petty Officer Brittany N. Rasmussen, charged with negligent homicide (Article 134), assault (Article 128), and dereliction of duty (Article 92), referred to special court-martial.

The charges are based on information discovered by Coast Guard investigators and evidence presented during the Article 32 investigation, which included four days of testimony at the 11th Coast Guard District headquarters in Alameda in early September. Details of all charges are contained in the official charge sheets that are being released today along with the Article 32 investigating officer’s recommendations.

There are three types of courts-martial — general, special and summary. A general court-martial is composed of not less than five members, presided over by a military judge, and may impose any sentence authorized in the manual for courts-martial for offenses of which the accused is found guilty. A special court-martial is composed of not less than three members, presided over by a military judge, and may impose a maximum punishment of up to 12 months confinement, forfeiture of two-thirds pay for 12 months, reduction to lowest pay grade and a bad conduct discharge.

A fourth crew member, Petty Officer Lavelle M. Teague, was charged with dereliction of duty (Article 92). His case is being addressed through military non-judicial punishment, an administrative process that can result in punishments such as: up to 30 days of correctional custody, reductions in rank, forfeitures of pay, and restriction to base.

All UCMJ charges are accusations. The accused are presumed innocent unless proven guilty. To protect the rights of the accused, and out of respect for the rights and privacy of everyone affected by the tragic collision, no additional details about the investigation or pending legal matters may be released at this time.

The UCMJ is a complete set of criminal laws that covers most crimes contained in civilian law in addition to other military-specific offenses such as failure to obey an order, desertion, etc.

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