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Family Of Man Accidentally Shot Through Head By F-16 Awarded $25 Million

Family Of Man Accidentally Shot Through Head By F-16 Awarded $25 Million

The family of a man who was shot in the head and killed by an F-16 pilot has been awarded $24,633,042.13 (£19,045,652.35) in damages.

Charles Holbrook was killed in January 2017 when he was shot by a student pilot during a night-time weapons training exercise at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, USA.

The 53-year-old business development manager from Florida - who was there to demonstrate a laser imaging device - died several hours later in hospital.

Charles Holbrook died in hospital.
Charles Holbrook died in hospital.
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Court records state: "Charles Holbrook was killed when an F-16 student pilot mistook the line of rental cars for the similarly aligned target and was ordered to fire at the group, blowing up one of the rental cars and striking Charles Holbrook in the head with a 20mm round.

"Mr Holbrook died several hours later at the hospital."

The pilot that shot Mr Holbrook was using night vision goggles for the first time on his first night close support mission.

Court records state: "Despite the fact that his instruments showed he was on the incorrect target, a target that was not lased or sparkled, but had a red warning strobe light, after his failed attempt to hit the wrong target, neither the MP (Mishap Pilot) or his instructor realised his mistake.

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"When the MP turned on the air-to-ground strafe mode and a strafing reticle appeared in his heads-up display, there was no target information to aim at in the heads-up display, because the target was off to the right.

"The MP either did not recognise or misinterpreted the significant information in his heads-up display, i.e. that the steer point diamond and laser targeting reticle were absent from his display.

"After receiving the okay from the MIP (Mishap Instructor Pilot), the MP squeezed the trigger while the nose of the aircraft was pointed at the OP (observation post) and sent 155 rounds of Vulcan cannon ammunition toward the ground crew, blowing up a rental car and striking Chuck Holbrook in the head with a 20mm round."

The student pilot mistook Mr Holbrook for the target. Credit: PA
The student pilot mistook Mr Holbrook for the target. Credit: PA
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Mr Holbrook's wife Belen sued the United States through the US Air Force for wrongful death shortly after on behalf of herself and the couple's young daughter, and on 14 October, the damages were awarded by Magistrate Judge Stephan Vidmar during a telephonic hearing.

Court records state: "The Defendant United States of America through the U.S. Air Force was responsible for the acts and omissions of their employees, agents, apparent agents and contractors, including Defendant John Does I and II, the JTAC (Joint Terminal Attack Controllers) personnel and those US Air Force members responsible for training, supervising, directing and ensuring safety in the live fire night-time run."

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: US News, crime

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Jake Massey

Jake Massey is a journalist at LADbible. He graduated from Newcastle University, where he learnt a bit about media and a lot about living without heating. After spending a few years in Australia and New Zealand, Jake secured a role at an obscure radio station in Norwich, inadvertently becoming a real-life Alan Partridge in the process. From there, Jake became a reporter at the Eastern Daily Press. Jake enjoys playing football, listening to music and writing about himself in the third person.