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Tillman's mom to ESPN: 'They were lying to us'

Story Highlights

• Army's explanations inadequate, dead soldier's mother tells ESPN Radio
• Military wanted a hero to help recruitment, she tells radio show
• "This was an attempt to dupe the public ... and that is immoral," she says
• Pat Tillman gave up NFL stardom to join Army after September 11 attacks
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(CNN) -- The mother of Cpl. Pat Tillman, the former NFL player killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in April 2004, on Tuesday rejected the latest explanation from the U.S. military about her son's death.

"It became very obvious early on that they were lying to us," Mary Tillman said on ESPN Radio's "Dan Patrick Show." "They were only telling one side of the story. They weren't telling the other side."

The military reported Monday that nine military officers, including four generals, will face "corrective action" for making critical mistakes in the aftermath of the Army Ranger's death.

An investigation by the Army's inspector general and Criminal Investigation Command concluded officers in Tillman's chain of command knew almost immediately after his death that he had been killed by fire from his own platoon, but that information was withheld from his family for more than a month, in violation of Army regulations.

The investigation also concluded that inadequate initial investigations "contributed to the inaccuracies, misunderstandings and perceptions of concealment."

Tillman's mother was not convinced.

Everyone involved in the shooting knew almost immediately that her son had been shot three times in the head by his own troops, she said.

Yet, at the memorial service for her son in May 2004, the military said Pat Tillman had been killed by enemy fire, she said.

"That was not a misstep, that was not an error," she said. "This was an attempt to dupe the public and to promote this war and to get recruitments up, and that is immoral."

Mary Tillman called for a congressional hearing "to have it all aired out."

She added, "I really don't know what happened. We've been told so many different things."

Shot intentionally?

Mary Tillman said she was not excluding the possibility that her son was shot intentionally.

"Pat was used," she said. "Once he was killed, I think they saw this as an opportunity." She noted that April 2004 was the worst month up to that time in the year-old Iraq war, and the shooting occurred right after the Abu Ghraib scandal broke.

The latest investigation "only presented the points of view of the soldiers in the vehicle" who fatally shot her son and an Afghan soldier and wounded two others, she said.

"They never brought into play what the other witnesses said," Mary Tillman said.

She described as "shocking" the military's claim that no rules of engagement were broken.

The platoon members "fired at soldiers who weren't firing at them in areas where hands were waving and at a building," she said. "All of those things are breaking rules of engagement."

The soldier believed to have shot her son three times in the head was asked whether he had made a positive identification of the target before firing, she said. "This soldier said, 'No, I wanted to be in a firefight,' " she said. "That was a definite breaking of the rules of engagement."

She said the military is still spinning the story for its own gain.

"The first investigative officer, in his statement to the third investigative officer, said in his opinion, there was evidence of criminal intent, and he also used the term 'criminal negligence,' " Tillman said.

"Yet his report has been devalued because it doesn't go along with what they want out in the public eye."

In 2002, Pat Tillman, a safety with the Arizona Cardinals, turned down a multimillion-dollar contract offer and instead joined the Army, a decision he said was a response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

He was shot April 22, 2004, in a remote area near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.


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