Germans charge US servicemember in sailor’s death
By MATT MILLHAM | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 19, 2013
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — A German judge has charged a U.S. servicemember with manslaughter in the death of a Navy petty officer found unresponsive Saturday in the passenger seat of a car in Kaiserslautern, according to a spokeswoman for the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations.
The U.S. military, however, “has not charged him with anything yet,” OSI spokeswoman Linda Card said in an email late Wednesday.
German authorities charged the yet-to-be identified servicemember in the death of U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dmitry Chepusov, who was pronounced dead at the scene following a traffic stop.
An autopsy by German authorities concluded that Chepusov, a 31-year-old sailor assigned to the American Forces Network at Ramstein Air Base, died of “force to the neck,” according to a joint statement from German police and the Kaiserslautern prosecutor’s office.
Card said the results of that autopsy were only preliminary and that the U.S. would conduct its own examination once the body and other evidence are turned over to American authorities.
“Until then, there is no official autopsy report to confirm the matter of death,” she wrote.
According to Card, the German prosecutor’s office is reluctant to fully release the case, though OSI believes that German authorities will release evidence to the U.S. on Thursday.
“At that time, [the Air Force] will assume the lead in this investigation with assistance from the Germans and NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigative Service),” Card wrote.
The Germans on Monday turned the suspect over to U.S. military authorities.
The servicemember was interviewed by those U.S. authorities and remanded to his unit by his commander, Card wrote. He has not been arrested.
“No charges will be considered until all investigative findings, interviews and official autopsy reports are completed,” she wrote.
German authorities have jurisdiction to prosecute U.S. servicemembers but usually cede cases to the the military, which nearly always seeks jurisdiction.