Two days after two of the top Parris Island recruit trainers were dismissed, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service met with the family of Raheel Siddiqui, according to the family’s attorney.
Nabih Ayad, a Detroit-based lawyer who began working with the family after their son died in March at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, said two NCIS agents met with Siddiqui’s mother and father and with one of Siddiqui’s former employers Wednesday in Detroit.
The agents talked to the family and the former employer — a manager at Home Depot — about Siddiqui’s medical history, Ayad said, including whether he had ever sought medical treatment for depression or expressed suicidal thoughts.
“And their answers were unequivocally ‘No,’ ” Ayad said, explaining how the family and former employer responded to agents’ questions.
To Ayad’s knowledge, it was the first time NCIS had asked the family whether Siddiqui had a history of depression or suicidal thoughts. The attorney continues to be skeptical that Siddiqui’s death could have been suicide. The agents, he said, shared information from witness statements that told a story of Siddiqui passing out in front of a drill instructor. But there was only one witness statement that detailed Siddiqui’s fatal fall, Ayad said, which bothers him.
Siddiqui, a 20-year-old Marine recruit from Taylor, Mich., died March 18 at the depot after suffering a nearly 40-foot fall, according to NCIS. He’d been on the island just 11 days. Parris Island officials shared information with the Siddiqui family that indicated he’d jumped to his death, but the family has questioned that information. NCIS has continued to say no foul play is suspected.
“That’s still the case,” NCIS spokesperson Ed Buice said Wednesday afternoon. “There’s been nothing to contradict that first impression.”
Buice said the investigation is ongoing and that investigations typically take “many months to a year.”
When asked if NCIS agents met with the Siddiqui family Wednesday, Buice replied, “The agents will not inform (the NCIS public affairs office) of every step being taken in an investigation, and if I did know, our policy is not to discuss the details of ongoing investigations.”
When asked if Wednesday was the first time NCIS had asked the Siddiqui family about their son’s mental health history, Buice declined to comment.
When asked if Monday’s dismissals of recruit training regiment commander Col. Paul D. Cucinotta and the regiment’s highest-ranking enlisted man, Sgt. Maj. Nicholas A. Deabreau, were related to the ongoing NCIS invesitgation, Buice replied, “I would be unable to discuss a personnel issue out of Parris Island.”
Ayad said he asked the NCIS agents in Detroit why Cucinotta and Deabreau were dismissed. The agents said they didn’t know, Ayad said, and that the dismissals “didn’t really have anything to do with the (NCIS) investigation.”
The NCIS agents shared information from statements authored by “multiple recruits,” Ayad said, that said Siddiqui was ordered to continually re-approach a drill instructor — by running back to his original position before running again to the instructor — which caused him to faint.
“The understanding was his throat was so swollen he couldn’t speak,” Ayad said, explaining Siddiqui was approaching the drill instructor to ask for medical treatment.
“His body shut down right in front of the instructor,” Ayad said, “and yet he still didn’t allow him any treatment.”
The information from the statements, according to Ayad, said the instructor first tried to wake up Siddiqui by “rubbing his fist on his chest.” Then the instructor “smacked” Siddiqui in the face and the recruit ran out of the room.
A lone witness statement, according to Ayad, said that Siddiqui “tried to jump off the balcony” and that his “legs got tangled” and he “fell in an uncontrolled fall.”
Ayad said he was “troubled” there were multiple witness statements that detailed Siddiqui passing out but just one that documented the fall. He wondered how that was possible.
When asked if he physically saw the witness statements Wednesday in Detroit, Ayad said he had not. When asked if the agents had read, verbatim, the witness statements to him and the family, Ayad replied they had not.
The information that was shared with him and the family about the statements were based on what the NCIS agents told him, Ayad said.