March 11, 2001 The Associated Press reports:
Two former Blackwater contractors were found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the May 2009 shooting death of an unarmed Afghan civilian in Kabul.
A federal jury found Justin H. Cannon and Christopher Drotleff not guilty of murder and weapons charges that could have resulted in life sentences. They also were acquitted in the death of a second unarmed civilian who was killed.
The men were in Afghanistan training the national army there at the time of the shooting. They now face a maximum sentence of eight years in prison and will be sentenced June 14.
The trial focused on whether Drotleff and Cannon feared for their lives the night of the shooting, when the vehicle in front of them that was escorting their translators home got into a bad accident on a dark street.
Defense attorneys said they opened up fire on a Toyota Corolla when it approached them at a high speed following the accident. Prosecutors said the Corolla wasn’t a threat and approached to help the accident victims. They said Drotleff and Cannon acted out of anger and frustration on a day their boss had been fired and that they had been drinking.
“All the bullet holes in the vehicle were in the rear of the vehicle.”
The man walking his dog, Rahib Mirza Mohammad, was unintentionally hit. The jury didn’t find Drotleff or Cannon guilty any charges related to his death.
The involuntary manslaughter verdict was issued in the death of Romal Mohammad Naiem, the passenger in the Corolla.
Blackwater, based in North Carolina, has since changed its name to Xe Corp.