Army sergeant who punched fellow soldier gets reduction in rank
CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea — An Army sergeant who admitted punching another soldier, then leaving his duty station against his first sergeant’s orders, was sentenced here Wednesday to be reduced in rank by one pay grade.
Sgt. Lorenzo France of the 557th Military Police Company was reduced from pay grade E-5 to E-4 following a court-martial before Army Col. Patrick J. Parrish, chief judge for the 6th Judicial Circuit in Seoul.
France had opted to be tried by military judge alone instead of a jury.
France had pleaded guilty to assault consummated by battery and willful disobedience of a noncommissioned officer. The assault charge stemmed from an April 24 incident in the bar district outside Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek City’s Anjung-ri section. The disobedience charge grew out of an April 30 incident.
France, a military police officer, testified that on that night he was with a fellow MP, also a sergeant, when three soldiers approached and began hectoring the other MP.
“‘You’re not in uniform now, you’re a flashlight cop,’” France quoted the men as saying to his companion. He told the judge the term flashlight cop was meant as a derisive term for an MP.
The three were “definitely drunk” and seemed bent on provoking a fight, France testified.
Both sergeants moved off and sought to avoid trouble, he told the judge.
But the three soldiers made further attempts to provoke a fight, France testified. One swung at France’s companion, who knocked him to the ground with a single punch. A second grabbed for the companion’s arm but also ended up on the ground.
“They’re both on the ground, done,” said France.
It was during this encounter that France’s anger overcame him and he struck one of the soldiers in the face, he said.
Then, on April 30, France’s first sergeant told him he was forbidden to make a trip to Osan Air Base because his pass privileges had been suspended.
But he went anyway, France testified, wanting to pick up an anniversary photo for his wife.
Prosecuting the case were Capt. Yong J. Lee of the area III Legal Center at Camp Humphreys and Capt. Claudine Andola, 35th Air Defense Artillery command judge advocate.
France’s defense attorney was Capt. James R. Abeshaus of the Trial Defense Service in Seoul.