What really happened that day when Lieutenant Lorance’s platoon set out on patrol from Strong Point Payenzai, Afghanistan? What orders did Lt. Lorance give that later found him charged and convicted of 2 murders and 1 attempted murder? Why didn’t the soldiers in his squadron support him? What did the government withhold from due process that could have exonerated Lt Lorance?
While crossing a barricaded road designated only for military and police use, his platoon encountered a dreaded–and possibly deadly–threat: Three men on a motorcycle speeding directly towards them. Not only were the men driving on a prohibited road, but they ignored the platoon’s verbal shouts and hand signals commanding them to stop. They also fit the description of the enemy personnel as described by the overhead surveillance team. Fearing an impending ambush and/or vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, either of which could have resulted in the loss of additional men (his unit had already lost four soldiers), Lorance commanded his gunners to open fire on the motorcycle. The first shots missed the riders. The three Afghan men on the motorcycle roared through the platoon formation, then came to a halt nearby. All three dismounted and began walking aggressively towards Lorance’s troops, still ignoring commands to stop.
Not knowing whether the men might be armed with traditional weapons and/or suicide vests, he again gave permission to his men to open fire, resulting in the death of two of the Afghans. The third ran away but was found and detained later that day. His hands tested positive for homemade bomb-making materials residue, lending to the suspicion that he and his cohorts were preparing for an attack against American soldiers. Another local Afghan quickly retrieved the motorcycle from the scene and rode away on it before it could be collected as evidence or assessed for explosives.
What did the soldiers of his squad say that threw guilt into his arena?