Alaskan asked to be shot to avoid Marine duty, police say

State filed weapons and evidence charges; military issued a deserter warrant.

Associated PressSeptember 8, 2012 

KENAI -- A 19-year-old Alaska man didn't want to return to his Marine Corps battalion after a severe anxiety attack, police say, so he had a friend shoot him in the leg with a shotgun.

The May 22 shooting prompted the state to file weapons and evidence charges. When Ian H. West failed to report for duty, his commanding officer issued a deserter warrant.

Now, West's attorney says he was unlawfully held by the state of Alaska for 20 days this summer, even after the Marines dropped his deserter status.

The Peninsula Clarion reports West's attorney said police failed to communicate with the military, leading to West's unnecessary detention.

On June 28, West missed an arraignment on the weapons and evidence charges. The state tried to issue a warrant for his arrest but a Kenai Peninsula Borough Court judge rejected it, saying West was not a flight risk.

While recovering from the May shooting, West failed to report for duty in California. On July 3, the Marines reported him as a deserter. Nearly a month later, on Aug. 1, Kenai police served the warrant on West and took him to a local jail.

West's attorney, Kevin Fitzgerald, argues that the police in Kenai should have told the Marines what had happened, which would have prevented the deserter warrant from being issued.

"Nobody confessed to the realities," said Sandy West, Ian's father. "Everybody was handing the ball off to someone else.

"Ian sat in prison for 20 days while everyone played mumbly peg."

The Marines have dropped the warrant. They informed West's lawyer and the court that they intend to "administratively separate from Private West," but may elect to initiate court-marital charges.

The 17-year-old friend who shot West has not been charged as an adult.

West is a private assigned to the 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, based at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Anchorage Daily News is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service