Sailor sentenced in stolen van incident
SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — A sailor stationed on the USS Essex was given a three-year suspended prison sentence Wednesday for hitting a Japanese police officer with a stolen vehicle, the U.S. Navy and a Japanese district court said.
Seaman Apprentice Brandon Jackson, 21, was charged with hit-and-run, auto theft, driving without a license, causing bodily injury and interfering with officers in the line of duty, according to the Nagasaki District Public Prosecutors Office in Sasebo.
The Japanese court suspended the prison sentence for four years.
Jackson has two weeks to appeal the decision and was confined Thursday to the USS Essex, where he could face further punishment from the ship’s command, Sasebo Naval Base spokesman Charles Howard said.
Police said Jackson stole a van in the early morning hours of Dec. 7.
The crime was committed "as a way to forget a fight after getting drunk," a judge said during the trial, according to Nishi-Nippon Shimbun.
Sasebo police spotted Jackson in the stolen vehicle and attempted to intervene.
An officer opened a passenger-side door to inspect the van and Jackson pulled away.
Police said Jackson dragged the 22-year-old officer about 30 feet, causing minor cuts and bruises and ripping off the officer’s pants.
Jackson crashed the van through a base security gate and later abandoned it in a family housing area, according to police.
The incident spurred a search by city authorities and the Navy that included a personnel check among all ship and shore commands, the base said.
On Jan. 7, military police told Japanese authorities they had identified Jackson as a possible suspect.
Jackson was indicted in February for the auto theft and later was charged with the list of other counts that included hit-and-run.