Fort Carson soldier waits for transfer from jail
MIAMI (AP) ” A soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder is being jailed on a desertion charge without seeing a judge since his arrest earlier this month, leading a veterans group to criticize the Army for not acting fast enough to transfer the man.
Spc. Alex Lotero was arrested Feb. 1 and brought to Miami-Dade County jail. He had been based at Fort Carson, Colo., before he left his post without permission.
Army officials said a soldier deemed to be a deserter can be held for up to 30 days before being taken into military custody, but Veterans for America spokeswoman Adrienne Willis said Lotero should have been transferred within 72 hours.
“He hasn’t seen a lawyer, he hasn’t had any of his medication, he hasn’t had any of the rights of an American citizen, so it’s a little concerning,” Willis said Wednesday.
Her group is investigating mental health care at Fort Carson.
“It’s very odd that he can be sitting there without representation, without seeing a judge for 30 days,” she said.
Lotero was being held without bond and would not see a judge before his transfer to military custody, per protocol, said Miami-Dade jail spokeswoman Janell Hall.
His mother told The Miami Herald that he was not being given his usual medications for anxiety, back pain and a sleep disorder.
Due to privacy laws, no information was available about whether he was being treated for a medical or psychological issue, Hall said.
Officials from Fort Benning, Ga., would escort Lotero to Colorado, said Army spokesman Maj. Nathan Banks.
Lotero participated in meetings about mental health care with commanders and congressional staffers at Fort Carson last spring, and told The Associated Press then that he had been diagnosed with PTSD in November 2006 after serving in Iraq.
He was arrested by officers responding to a battery call. They matched Lotero to a June 2007 warrant issued by the U.S. Army, Miami-Dade police spokesman Mario Rachid said.
The warrant charged Lotero with military desertion. The officers arrested him and transferred him to a county jail, but he does not face a battery charge, Rachid said.