Michael Williams served in the Armed Forces for five years as a Ranger and an infantryman. During his second deployment to Iraq, Michael shot a disarmed Iraqi insurgent during a cordon and search mission. About an hour later, he authorized his squad member to shoot another suspected insurgent. Michael was accused of murdering the two men, and he was convicted of both murders at a court-martial in 2005. Michael spent ten years serving his twenty-five year sentence at the Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, and was released on parole in 2014. Now a productive member of society living in Memphis, Tennessee, Michael currently seeks a Presidential pardon for his convictions.
Michael wants a pardon so that he can experience the freedom that he fought for all of us to enjoy. After first serving as an Army Ranger when he was nineteen, Michael re-enlisted in the Armed Forces right after the September 11 attacks. He wanted to keep his family safe and to protect our country’s values. Now, as a parolee, Michael has lost much of his own freedom. His conviction carries an intense stigma, one that he feels when he goes to church and when he spends time with his eleven-year old daughter. Michael’s convictions make simple things—like filing for a credit card or finding an apartment—hard. Even though he is no longer in prison, his conviction still holds him back.
Michael is uniquely qualified to receive a Presidential pardon. He dedicated five years of his life to protecting our country, and we ask that the President acknowledge that sacrifice by considering his pardon application. What’s more, Michael’s crimes occurred during active duty while he was suffering from combat stress, a disorder characterized by hyper-vigilance and caused by the constant pressure of war. Michael has also worked hard to rebuild his life since leaving prison. He works at his family’s biotechnology company and goes to community college. When he’s not working, he spends his time building a relationship with his daughter. Michael’s daughter was born while Michael awaited trial in Kuwait, and he only met her five times during the 10 years he was imprisoned.
Granting Michael a pardon would not erase his guilt or deny his wrongdoing. It would simply be an act of forgiveness for a man who has sacrificed so much to keep us safe.