Zushi, a popular beach near Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, is pictured on March 22, 2024.

Zushi, a popular beach near Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, is pictured on March 22, 2024. (Akifumi Ishikawa/Stars and Stripes)

YOKOSUKA, Japan — A U.S. Navy sailor accused of slamming into a group of Japanese people in a beach town near Yokosuka Naval Base identified himself afterward as Satan, a Japanese police officer testified Thursday.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel Krieger, a logistics specialist assigned to the guided-missile destroyer USS Milius, is charged with four counts of bodily injury. He pleaded not guilty during his March 8 arraignment at Yokohama District Court’s Yokosuka Branch.

Krieger’s attorneys don’t dispute the facts of the July 9, 2022, incident in Zushi, a beach town on Sagami Bay, said Masahiko Goto, who represents the injured parties in a separate civil suit against the sailor.

Krieger’s criminal defense lawyers argue the sailor cannot bear responsibility because he was drunk at the time and suffers from a preexisting brain injury, said Goto, whose clients are demanding damages of about $136,000.

Krieger’s lawyers could not be reached for comment Friday.

At the sailor’s criminal trial Thursday, Kanagawa Prefectural Police Officer Ryota Yogita testified Krieger at first identified himself as Satan and at varying times said he was from Colombia, China, Russia and Okinawa.

Yogita at the time worked at the Zushi Police Department and interrogated Krieger after the incident.

Krieger refused a Breathalyzer test and said he hadn’t been drinking that day, Yogita testified. Krieger did not smell of alcohol but seemed to be speaking and acting strangely, the officer said.

Yogita, the lone witness Thursday, testified for about two hours. The trial is scheduled to convene again on April 25 and May 13.

Krieger’s defense attorneys played more than a dozen videos from surveillance cameras on the day of the incident. Prosecutors allege Krieger ran into the group of five people from behind and knocked them down, leaving some seriously injured.

One, low-resolution video appeared to show Krieger colliding with the group on a street. Other videos show him being chased by civilians before police detained him at a train station.

All five were injured to varying degrees, according to police.

Among the most severe injuries was a 33-year-old man with multiple sprained vertebrae and a 58-year-old woman who suffered a broken upper jaw, broken nasal bone and other facial injuries.

Kanagawa police in October 2022 recommended charging Krieger with bodily injury of five individuals, but prosecutors indicted him on four, a police spokesman said at the time.

In Japan, bodily injury carries a maximum punishment of 15 years with hard labor or a fine of approximately $3,250.

Naval Forces Japan spokesman Cmdr. Paul Macapagal confirmed Krieger’s rank and command but could not immediately provide other biographical details, including his hometown.

“The Navy takes seriously all incidents and allegations involving misconduct of sailors, Navy civilians and family members,” he said by phone Friday. “We expect the highest standards of conduct for all of our Navy-affiliated personnel.”

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Alex Wilson covers the U.S. Navy and other services from Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. Originally from Knoxville, Tenn., he holds a journalism degree from the University of North Florida. He previously covered crime and the military in Key West, Fla., and business in Jacksonville, Fla.
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Hana Kusumoto is a reporter/translator who has been covering local authorities in Japan since 2002. She was born in Nagoya, Japan, and lived in Australia and Illinois growing up. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and previously worked for the Christian Science Monitor’s Tokyo bureau.

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