Family of soldier killed by police says he came home from war a ‘different person’

By Andrew Pereira
Published On: Jan 17 2013 06:52:00 PM HST

Heartsick family members of the soldier shot and killed by police in Waikiki say officers had no business gunning him down.

HONOLULU -

The young Hawaii-based soldier who was shot and killed by police in a hail of bullets early Tuesday morning suffered from a severe case of post-traumatic stress disorder. That's the claim being made by a spokesperson on behalf of Pfc. Gregory Gordon's parents, Todd and Tracey Gordon.

"He was a good person, and when he came back from the war he was not the same," said Amanda Cureton. "He came back a completely different person."  

Cureton told KITV4 Gordon's PTSD was so bad, that he would often call relatives back home in Alabama in tears, and suffered frequent panic attacks.

"He'd come home on leave once and saw garbage bags on the side of the road, and had a literal panic attack because he thought they were bombs that were being placed," she said.

Gordon, 22, of Ashford, Alabama, was extremely drunk when he was shot and killed by police officers just before 4 a.m.  Officers on foot patrol noticed Gordon driving erratically, which included traveling in the wrong direction down a one-way street.

Police say at one point Gordon attempted to run over a police officer on Kuhio Avenue, who then fired his weapon in self-defense. The soldier was eventually surrounded by several patrol cars on Ala Wai Boulevard, but amateur video shows him repeatedly ramming police vehicles in an apparent effort to get away.

Gordon's family believes Honolulu police used excessive force, and there was no need to open fire on the intoxicated soldier, who had a blood-alcohol level of 0.196, or two-and-a-half times Hawaii's legal limit to operate a motor vehicle.

"You could see that he couldn't get out," said Cureton. "There were so many police officers surrounding him; there was another way (to end it)."

Police say a replica handgun was found inside the Dodge pickup Gordon was driving, but there's no indication he pointed the fake weapon at officers, or that it was in plain view.

Gordon's family said the military provided a counselor to help with his symptoms of PTSD, but they feel a psychiatrist or inpatient care would have been more effective. A spokesman with 25th Infantry Division did not have an immediate response to claims made by the family of inadequate treatment.

"We're just upset that this had to happen," said Cureton. "'Why?' -- is the question that everybody keeps asking."

Meanwhile, the Honolulu Liquor Commission has launched an investigation to discover if Gordon was being served alcohol after already being drunk. Several bars near the area where Gordon was shot by police close at 4 a.m., the time of the shooting. Police say no drugs or alcohol were found inside Gordon's vehicle.

"He shouldn't have been served that much alcohol, but before that he should've been getting proper treatment for PTSD and for the alcoholism that was self-medication," said Cureton. "He had been hospitalized for alcohol poisoning two months ago."

According to Liquor Commission Administrator Greg Nishioka, the imposition of penalties for over service of alcohol is within the discretion of Commissioners.  The possible penalties range from a $2,000 fine to revocation of a premise's liquor license.

Gordon was the father of a 1-year-old boy, who lives with his parents and the boy's mother in Ashford.  

Gordon served as a fire support specialist with the 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team out of Schofield Barracks. He joined the Army in April of 2010, and attended basic training at Fort Knox, Ky., and advanced individual training at Fort Sill, Okla.  

Gordon deployed with the unit to Afghanistan in April of 2011, and had been back on Oahu for nearly a year before he was killed.

Gordon's awards include the National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, Global War on Terrorism Medal, and the Army Service Ribbon.

"We choose to remember him as the person that he was, (and) the person that we know," said Cureton, "a brother, a father, a son, a friend and a hero."

Gordon is survived by his parents, and four brothers.

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