Defense: Michael Bowman’s “broken brain made him pull the trigger”

Kevin Jordan

SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::

In her opening argument, Michael Bowman’s defense attorney said her client is not guilty of any of the charges he faces in the May 31, 2014, shooting death of Officer Kevin Jordan, of the Griffin Police Department.

According to Amber Pittman, a trial attorney of the Georgia Capital Defender Office, Bowman, a decorated soldier who earned the Combat Action Badge and served

two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan as a soldier in the Georgia National Guard, has no memory of the shooting that took the life of Kevin Jordan.

“834 days – that’s how many days Michael (Bowman) spent defending our country. We are here because Michael is a soldier whose brain has been broken by war,” Pittman said, later adding, “He acted as he was trained to do.”

Prior to elaborating on Bowman’s experiences while deployed, Pittman said, “…the brain of a soldier is broken by war.”

She said Bowman did not know he was doing anything wrong when he fired 16 shots at the North Expressway Waffle House where Kevin Jordan was working, instead calling his actions a “conditioned response.”

Bowman could not understand and process information correctly due to a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and hearing loss he sustained during his first tour in Iraq that began in 2005 when the vehicle he was in struck an improvised explosive device (IED), and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that resulted from his deployments.

She said upon the conclusion of his first deployment, Bowman told the Army of his conditions.

“He told the Army he had hearing loss and ringing in his ears, that he had lost interest in doing pleasurable things and that he was afraid he may do something to hurt someone,” Pittman said.

She alleges the Army took no action to help Bowman.

Pittman also spoke of a second occurrence during his second tour in Iraq in which she said Bowman and his buddies were drinking when their base was overrun. She acknowledged they were not supposed to be drinking, but said it was a result of the stress the soldiers faced.

“There was constant danger, constant dread, constant fear,” she said.

Upon the conclusion of his second tour, Bowman again reported his condition to the Army, and again no action was taken, Pittman said.

His third deployment was his first in Afghanistan, which Pittman described as a vastly different experience.

“You’re going to hear that everyone was suspect,” she said.

As part of the personal security detail of Lt. Col. Louie Payne, she said Bowman went on over 300 missions in Afghanistan, with one leaving him “particularly damaged,” Pittman said.

While en route to assist others who were under fire, the vehicle Bowman was in became stuck in a riverbed. Pittman said they soon found themselves also under fire, with mortar and rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) incoming for hours.

Upon returning to the United States, Bowman once again reported his conditions to the Army, Pittman said. Again, no treatment was provided, she said.

“He returned a different man,” she said. “Most of us live our lives with the feeling we’re safe. People with PTSD have that safety ripped away.”

Pittman said his condition cost Bowman not only his stateside employment, but his marriage, as well, and that he then became involved with Chantell Mixon, who is also charged with murder in Jordan’s shooting death.

The defense described Mixon as “not a nice person,” who was “loud and obnoxious,” and claimed she was the crux of the problem at the Waffle House.

“He’s (Bowman) trying to help the officer get her (Mixon) out of the Waffle House. Something snapped. He pulled out his gun and he shot. At that moment, Michael’s conditioned responses took over,” she said, adding, “He misperceived the situation. He saw a threat in Kevin Jordan.”

Pittman strongly stressed that neither defense counsel nor Bowman are attempting to place blame on Kevin Jordan.

“This is a tragedy that never should have happened,” she said before elaborating. “Michael’s broken brain caused him to pull the trigger. Michael’s broken brain made pulling the trigger the only option at that moment.”

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