Eddie Gallagher's shocking claim that SEALs intended for detainee to die

He claims SEALs agreed the detainee should die from practice medical procedures.

May 5, 2021, 1:20 PM

Former Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, who was found not guilty of the charge of murder in the death of a young Islamic State detainee in Iraq in 2017, has made the bombshell allegation that the detainee died as part of a plan to practice medical procedures on him and that his fellow SEALs had all agreed to the idea.

Gallagher, the senior enlisted leader of his SEAL platoon and a medic, provided medical care to the detainee including the insertion of a breathing tube to his throat, but denied allegations that the detainee died after he stabbed him.

Gallagher has maintained his innocence and alleged that disgruntled members of his platoon had stepped forward with allegations of misconduct to frame him.

"The grain of truth in the whole thing is that that ISIS fighter was killed by us and that nobody at that time had a problem with it," Gallagher said on the Apple TV+ podcast "The Line," hosted by Dan Taberski.

"We killed that guy. Our intention was to kill him, everybody was on board," Gallagher said on the Apple podcast. "It was to do medical scenarios on him until he died."

Navy Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher celebrates after being acquitted of premeditated murder at Naval Base San Diego, July 2, 2019, in San Diego.
Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

"He was going to die regardless" Gallagher claimed, alleging that "everyone was, like, let's just do medical treatments on him until he's gone."

"Everybody knew what was going on," said Gallagher. "That's the only truthful thing to this whole process. And then the rest of it, just is like, a bunch of contorted lies to, like, pin that whole scenario on me."

Gallagher also maintained that he never stabbed the detainee, "that dude died from all the medical treatments that were done and there's plenty of medical treatments that were done to him."

In 2019, a military jury found Gallagher not guilty of a murder charge for allegedly stabbing the wounded teenager, as well as charges of attempted murder and obstruction of justice. But he was found guilty of posing for a photo with the corpse of the 17-year-old detainee and was sentenced to four months of time served.

President Donald Trump later restored Gallagher's rank enabling him to retire as a chief petty officer and allowed him to keep the Trident insignia pin that identified him as a SEAL.

Navy Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher walks into military court with his wife Andrea Gallagher, July 2, 2019, in San Diego.
Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

After the trial The New York Times released videos that showed members of Gallagher's platoon describing him to investigators as being "freaking evil" and "toxic."

"You could tell he was perfectly OK with killing anybody that was moving," said Petty Officer 1st Class Corey Scott who would later testify at the trial, under immunity, that Gallagher had stabbed the detainee, but Scott had afterwards asphyxiated the detainee by covering up the breathing tube in his throat as a mercy killing.

Scott told the court that he did that because he believed the detainee would likely be tortured and killed after being turned over to Iraqi security forces. An attorney for Scott declined to comment to ABC News on Tuesday when asked about Gallagher's new claims.

In January 2020, Gallagher lashed out against the SEALs in his unit who had testified against him, posting a video on Facebook that listed their identities and assignments, something typically not allowed for SEALs to maintain their operational security.

"The story has never been fully exposed about what really happened," Gallagher said in the short video. "You may think you know, but you have no idea."

In the podcast, Gallagher claimed when it appeared that he was going to be charged with murder and that SEALs from his platoon might testify against him, "I knew to keep my mouth shut" and never told his superiors.

"At that point, my intuition kicked in and I was like, 'I'm not talking to anybody about it even though I'm, like, innocent,'" he said.

Gallagher explained on the podcast that the only reason why he performed the life-saving procedure of inserting a breathing tube in the detainee's throat was "just for practice."

"I was practicing to see how see how fast I could do one," he told the podcast.

During his court martial, Gallagher's attorney Tim Parlatore, laid out a narrative that disgruntled members of the platoon had conspired to bring down Gallagher because they did not like his leadership style.

"This case isn't about murder. It's about mutiny" Parlatore had said in his opening remarks and also noted that a forensic analysis of the knife allegedly used in the stabbing found no traces of blood.

Parlatore told ABC News on Tuesday that Gallagher's new narrative was known to military prosecutors and the presiding judge in the case, but did not come up in the narrative presented by prosecutors.

"There was no necessity for me to highlight it at the time, any more than I did, because ultimately it doesn't change the bottom line -- truth -- which is that Eddie Gallagher did not commit murder," said Parlatore.

“And that the SEAL community can never truly learn from this experience and move forward unless they first have a reckoning with the actual facts,” he added.

The attorney said that the new narrative as laid out by Gallagher "was always there, but just beneath the surface."

"We knew about it, the prosecutors knew about it, pieces of it were presented to the jury. And it was also presented to the judge in a motion," said Parlatore.

Parlatore, however, has not pointed to court records specifically raising the alleged agreement. He never raised the alleged agreement theory in his cross examination of the witnesses and, in fact, complained in a motion to dismiss that prosecutors had improperly withheld evidence asserting that one medic had conducted unnecessary procedures on the detainee. Neither Parlatore nor Gallagher have explained why he is raising the theory now or have offered direct evidence supporting any alleged agreement.

The Navy has not responded to a request for comment.

Parlatore argued that the detainee had no chance of surviving his injuries despite the medical procedures performed on him because he would not have been authorized to be be flown to a medical facility aboard a U.S. military medevac helicopter.

Gallagher's new claims are unsettling to Eric Oehlerich, a former commander of a Navy SEAL team platoon and an ABC News contributor.

"The moral obligation is that if you have enemy combatants you've got to take care of them," said Oehlerich, who noted there is a legal requirement "to keep them alive."

"You only treat a patient to save a life," said Oehlerich. "You don't treat them as live tissue medical treatment."

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was updated on May 5, 2021 at 1:20 p.m.