Family of dead Marine recruit files $100M lawsuit

Robert Snell
The Detroit News

Detroit – The parents of a local Marine recruit who died after falling down a stairwell at a boot camp filed a $100 million federal lawsuit Friday, alleging negligence caused their son’s death.

Raheel Siddiqui, 20, of Taylor, was assaulted, hazed and discriminated against because of his Muslim faith and unnamed officials failed to protect him, according to the lawsuit. The plaintiffs are mother Ghazala Siddiqui and father Masood Siddiqui.

The government also was negligent by almost immediately declaring his March 2016 death a suicide without conducting a full investigation, the family alleges.

The lawsuit is the latest fallout from a high-profile case that has raised questions about the treatment of Muslim recruits by officials within the U.S. military.

The government “failed to consider the possibility that Raheel Siddiqui was fatally injured by one of its own employees, despite investigatory evidence of maltreatment, abuse and hazing ...” family attorney Shiraz Khan wrote in the lawsuit.

Defendants listed in the lawsuit include the U.S. Marine Corps, the Parris Island Depot, the Navy and 20 individuals.

The individuals are not identified by name because the Navy denied a public records request by the parents for the identities and ranks of people involved or administratively punished in connection with Siddiqui’s death, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed 19 months after Siddiqui died after falling three stories in a stairwell during a standoff with Gunnery Sgt. Joseph A. Felix, one of his drill instructors.

The military says Siddiqui committed suicide, but his family disputes that finding, saying their son was hazed and abused at the training depot.

The lawsuit comes ahead of a court-martial in March of Lt. Col. Joshua Kissoon, the commanding officer at the training facility at Parris Island in South Carolina.

Kissoon was relieved of his command a week after Siddiqui’s death, but Marine Corps officials have said the decision to fire him was related to prior allegations and made before Siddiqui died.

The charges against Kissoon include the failure to bench a drill instructor who was under investigation for allegedly hazing a different Muslim recruit in 2015.

Felix, meanwhile, also is facing charges in military court that include maltreatment of Siddiqui.

After Siddiqui’s death, a series of Marine Corps investigations last year documented systemic hazing and abuse of recruits within the 3rd Recruit Training Battalion at Parris Island.

Twitter: @robertsnellnews

(313) 222-2486