Iraq vet brutalized over guns in D.C.
The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) seems to have it out for our military. The department is using the city’s pointless firearm registration mandate to harass, arrest and jail servicemen.
Army 1st Sergeant Matt Corrigan was woken in the middle of the night, forced out of his home, arrested, had his home ransacked, had his guns seized and was thrown in jail — where he was lost in the prison system for two weeks — all because the District refuses to recognize the meaning of the Second Amendment. This week, the city dropped all charges against Sgt. Corrigan, but the damage done to this reservist cannot be so easily erased.
This story will describe how Sgt. Corrigan went from sleeping at home at night to arrested. Subsequent installments of the series will cover the home raid without a warrant, the long-term imprisonment and the coverup by MPD.
Sgt. Corrigan, 35, and his attorney Richard Gardiner appeared before Judge Michael Ryan at D.C. Superior Court on Monday. The District’s assistant attorney general moved to dismiss all ten charges against him – three for unregistered firearms and seven for possession of ammunition in different calibers.
Wearing a blue suit and black-rimmed glasses, Sgt. Corrigan looked unemotional after the hearing that ended his two-year ordeal. Outside the courtroom, I asked him how he felt. I expected some vindication or, at least, relief. Instead, he was weighed down by the losses and trauma of the experience. “For court, I put on a face showing I’m okay,” he said. “Overall, this has broken me.”
Sgt. Corrigan was asleep in rented apartment on North Capitol Street in the Stonghold neighborhood at 4am on Feb. 3, 2010, when he heard his name being called on a bullhorn from outside. There was a heavy snow falling — the first storm of what became known that winter as “snowmageddon.”
Flood lights glared through the front and back windows and doors of his English basement apartment. “Matt Corrigan, We’re here to help you, Matt,” the voice said in the darkness. An experienced combat soldier, he assumed a bunker mentality and hid in the dark room.
dogHe turned on his cell phone and a police detective immediately phoned and said, “Matt, don’t you think this is a good time to walk your dog?” The SWAT team outside could obviously see the 11-year old pit bull, Matrix, a rescue from dog fighting, who had been with Sgt. Corrigan since graduate school in Northern California.
“I’ll come to the window and show myself,” he offered on the phone. Sgt. Corrigan still didn’t know why his house was surrounded, but he knew exactly what he should do in such situations. “I’ve been on the other end of that rifle trying to get someone out,” he explained.
He said that the cop on the phone answered that, “‘It’s gone beyond that now.’”
Sgt. Corrigan volunteered to serve for a year in Iraq from 2005-2006. He’s an Army reservist in a drill sergeant unit based in Alexandria. By day, he is a statistician at the Bureau of Labor Statistics. His unit would generally never be needed overseas, but the Army need people to train the Iraqi soldiers. So, the then-drill sergeant signed up for the deployment because he thought it would be good for his military career.
iraqThe reservist and nine other soldiers were embedded with the Iraqi army to train them to be a functional military force. He was stationed in Fallujah during the transition from the assault on the city to allowing the civilian population to move back in and through the elections. The team was spread out over 4 or 5 locations so that each Iraqi company could have a very different tasking from the Marines who operated that battlespace.
Among other duties, the sergeant would go out on patrol with the Iraqis, clear routes of IEDs, prevent new IEDs from being placed in the urban areas. During patrols, he would search for any detail in the street that had changed in a way that would indicate a possible new explosive, then he would scan the horizon for the enemy with the detonator. He says that in his daily life now, he’s still looking for the “IED triggerman.” He was awarded the bronze star.
His twelve months of service ended without much time to re-adjust to civilian life. “In 20 days, I went from being shot at to sitting in a cube wearing a suit,” he recalled of the difficult transition returning to his statistician job. “Your body is in America. Your head is in Iraq.”