LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — A former soldier who lost his lower right leg in an attack in Afghanistan must face felony charges after he fired a gun during an argument outside a bar the day before a planned homecoming parade in his honor, a judge said in rejecting a plea agreement.
Eric Braman, 25, pleaded guilty in March to a misdemeanor criminal recklessness charge for firing two shots last August in an incident that left one man hurt from debris. Tippecanoe County prosecutors had agreed to drop felony charges, but the judge said during a hearing Wednesday that he didn't believe the one-year maximum supervision that deal allowed was enough, the Journal & Courier reported (http://on.jconline.com/Ln3Smz ).
"Unfortunately for Mr. Braman, I'm the only judge in Tippecanoe County who is not too impressed with the sympathy of losing a limb," said Judge Les Meade, who lost a hand in a 1999 car crash. "Things happen; you've got to deal with it."
Braman has a prosthetic leg from the injuries he suffered in 2010 when a rocket-propelled grenade struck a military vehicle, killing two soldiers. The homecoming events planned for the weekend of the shooting followed 11 months of rehabilitation and were timed for the one-year anniversary of the attack.
Braman said in court that his anxiety and uneasiness in large crowds prompted him to bring a handgun "for protection" while out drinking with his brother and friends that weekend.
"I lost more than a limb," Braman said.
Defense attorney Dan Moore told the judge that Braman has been diagnosed with adjustment disorder, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Police said Braman pulled out his gun during the bar argument, firing one shot in the air and a second round into the ground.
"He responded to his victims like they were insurgents," Moore said.
Organizers canceled the homecoming ceremony and a fish fry and fundraiser at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post after Braman's arrest.
Meade said he didn't intend to send Braman to jail or prison, but told Moore and prosecutors to work out another solution.
"Somebody's out, getting drunk, going from bar to bar to bar, then pulls out a handgun," the judge said. "Why should I accept a misdemeanor in this case?"
Information from: Journal and Courier, http://www.jconline.com