Military officer court-martialed at Fort Bragg
Posted June 20, 2012 5:54 p.m. EDT
Updated June 20, 2012 7:13 p.m. EDT
Fort Bragg, N.C. — A court-martial began Wednesday at Fort Bragg for a member of the Army's Criminal Investigative Command, one of four military law enforcement officers accused of threatening the life of a civilian last year.
CW4 Scott Godwin is charged with violating a lawful order, unlawfully apprehending and arresting a civilian and depriving the individual of his rights under the color of the law.
Government prosecutors say Godwin, a chief warrant officer, directed the other agents to detain 28-year-old Vincent Sandifer for questioning relating to a purported threat made against another agent.
Sandifer's aunt, Sherry Trotter, however, says three officers, on the orders of Godwin, arrested Sandifer at his Spring Lake home on March 24, 2011, took him to a remote corner of Fort Bragg and threatened to kill him for having an affair with the wife of another officer.
"They had him sit down on the ground," Trotter said. "They had their guns, and one guy was constantly clicking the gun."
After threatening his life, she says, the officers drove Sandifer back home, still in handcuffs, and warned him not to tell anybody about what had happened.
Sandifer's father later alerted authorities.
Trotter calls it an abuse of power and says that, more than a year later, Sandifer is still scared.
"It has been horrible. He's completely paranoid," she said. "He's completely watching over his shoulders. He has to have someone with him at all times."
Army officials have not elaborated on the case against Godwin or released the names of the three other officers or what charges they face in the case.
Trotter says another officer is scheduled to be court-martialed in August.
WRAL News tried to cover Wednesday's proceedings, but a Fort Bragg public affairs officer was not able to escort the crew on base, as required by the presiding judge's order.
The court-martial is expected to last until Friday.