Soldiers and family members voiced strong opinions when told that a 1st Armored Division officer was found guilty Thursday in the fatal shooting of an Iraqi man.

A court-martial panel deliberated for about 2½ hours before convicting Capt. Roger Maynulet in the May 2004 death of Karim Hassan Abed Ali al-Haleji.

Maynulet’s defense argued that the man was dying, and that the 2nd Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment tank company commander shot the Iraqi in the head to put him out of his misery.

But that wasn’t an acceptable explanation to some soldiers and family members interviewed by Stars and Stripes shortly after the verdict.

“Any officer should know that you can’t shoot anybody who’s not shooting at you,” said an Army first lieutenant from Baumholder, Germany, who refused to give his name.

“That’s not his decision to make,” said Sharen Flowers, wife of an Army staff sergeant, interviewed in Kaiserslautern, Germany. “If he’s wounded, you have him treated and let the courts handle it.

“[Maynulet] can’t be judge, jury and God. What if they start doing that to us?”

But Army Sgt. Gary Lange from Landstuhl Regional Medical Center disagreed with the verdict.

“I think it sucks,” Lange said. “The guy is out there and he’s at war. People know that unless they identify themselves as noncombatants they’re subject to attack.

“It sounds political. In every war, you have one scapegoat.”

A defense character witness interviewed at a local hotel in Wiesbaden, Germany, said he was disappointed by the verdict.

“[Maynulet] is one of the best officers I’ve known since I’ve been in the Army,” said Capt. Jeremy Dobos, commander of Company C, 229th Military Intelligence Battalion at the Defense Language Institute in California. “He’s someone we need on the front lines of the war on terror.”

Dobos was the battalion intelligence officer deployed with Maynulet at the time of the shooting.

He said a drone video showing the Iraqi man waving his arm before being shot by Maynulet was not enough to change his mind.

“It doesn’t change my opinion of him one bit.”

Stars and Stripes reporters Steve Mraz, Ben Murray and Terry Boyd contributed to this report.

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