NEW YORK - Navy SEALs who accused Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher of war crimes described his behavior as “freaking evil” and “toxic” in videos and text messages obtained by the New York Times.
The Times reported Friday that it gained access to the media used as part of the Navy’s investigation into Gallagher.
The Navy SEAL chief was acquitted in July on war crime charges, which included murder. The one exception was a charge of posing for photos with the body of a teenage Islamic State captive - one he was accused of killing in May 2017.
Seven members of the 22-member Alpha platoon SEAL Team 7 spoke during his trial over the summer. But two members said they did not see any evidence of the crimes. One of the main members who accused Gallagher then changed his story on the witness stand, claiming he caused the young captive’s death.
According to the Times report, video footage from the Navy’s investigation showed the SEAL Team members nervous, shifting in their seats and breaking down while describing what they witnessed Gallagher do.
“You could tell he was perfectly OK with killing anybody that was moving,” Special Operator First Class Corey Scott said.
Scott, who was a medic on the platoon, is the witness who changed his testimony on the stand, according to the Times.
In the text messages, the group of men encouraged one another to tell the truth despite the fear their careers could be ruined. In the SEALs there is an “unwritten code of silence” and the men struggled to upend that code to report Gallagher, the Times reported.
Members said they saw Gallagher shoot two Iraqi civilians and stab the teenage captive in the neck with a hunting knife. They then felt they were forced to pose with the teen’s body in a photo resembling a trophy kill.
Gallagher has constantly criticized the men of lying and accusing him of the war crimes in an effort to oust him because they could not meet his standards for the team.
In November, he also received help from President Donald Trump, who reversed the Navy’s decision to demote Gallagher. The 14-year veteran then retired with full honors at the end of the month.
This story was reported from Los Angeles. The Associated Press contributed to this report.