TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. (KGTV) – A San Diego attorney who’s representing a second Navy corpsman being charged in connection with the death of another corpsman is speaking out to ABC 10News about his client.
This station is reviewing this video and will publish a version of it shortly.
Meanwhile, the deceased corpsman’s family continues to allege a military coverup over their son’s death.
ABC10 News first broke the story two years ago. On Monday, ABC 10News shared video that was just released by the family from the night of the deadly shooting on the Twentynine Palms Marine Corps base that's located a few hours northeast of San Diego. The family revealed that the Snapchat video was taken by their son, fallen corpsman HM3 Michael Vincent De Leon. His father told ABC 10News that the video was captured at a house party about an hour before his son was shot to death.
- Charges filed in Navy medic's shooting death on Southern California military base
- Source: SoCal Navy corpsman's death now being investigated as a homicide
At the beginning of video, De Leon shows himself on camera before turning the camera around to show a bag of chips and a music video playing on the television. He then shows other young men sitting around the room. One of them is holding what appears to be a beer can. He turns the camera back on himself and writes "#drinkopoly" before showing the board game on the table.
The 30-year-old corpsman’s family says that De Leon captured the video about an hour before he was shot to death during a going-away party with fellow corpsmen that was taking place on base. A corpsman is a type of medic.
“It was very low key. Six colleagues [were] getting together to celebrate somebody moving on,” said San Diego attorney Phillip Stackhouse. He provided ABC 10News with photos of his client, 23-year-old HM3 Mason Williams.
- Family alleges possible coverup in Navy medic's death on SoCal military base
- Hundreds honor dead SoCal Navy medic as NCIS continues its investigation
Williams is now the second corpsman to be charged in connection with De Leon’s death investigation.
“He was not looking at De Leon when the gun discharged. He was in the room, though,” said Stackhouse.
In a Miramar courtroom last September, HM1 Ryan Dini was the first corpsman to be charged. The prosecution stated that alcohol was flowing and guns were being dry-fired on the night of the fatal shooting. The military now confirms that Dini plans to enter a guilty plea next month to the charge of "dereliction of duty for failing to enforce the weapons safety rules." His attorney declined an interview.
Stackhouse confirmed Williams has been charged with "reckless endangerment," "dereliction of duty," "violation of a lawful general order," "drunk and disorderly conduct," and making a "false official statement."
Stackhouse told ABC 10News that he does not know which statement the prosecution is referring to but claimed that NCIS may be to blame.
“One of the statements that Petty Officer Williams made, the NCIS agent manipulated facts [and] manipulated Petty Officer Williams to such an extent that he stated that he was the one that had the gun in his hand when the gun went off and it was physically impossible for that to have happened based on where everyone was sitting and the trajectory of the shots that were fired,” added Stackhouse.
De Leon's family has alleged a coverup, saying that the 2019 shooting was first called in as a suicide. However, ABC 10News then learned from a source with close military ties that a homicide investigation was underway.
“I will tell you, our hearts break for the De Leon family,” said Stackhouse. “I cannot even pretend to understand how they feel.”
Both Dini and Williams’ hearings are scheduled for March 8. NCIS told ABC 10News that its investigation remains ongoing.