After 7 Years, Blackwater Guards Convicted In Iraq Shooting

The complex legal battle has ended with the convictions of four private security personal in the killing of 14 Iraqi civilians in 2007.
Posted at 6:53 PM, Oct 22, 2014

After a two-month-long trial, four former Blackwater security guards were convicted by a federal court Wednesday in connection with a 2007 mass shooting in Iraq.

In what became a major blemish on the U.S.'s operations in Iraq, Blackwater security guards — essentially hired soldiers — opened fire in a busy Baghdad traffic circle seven years ago, killing at least 14 unarmed Iraqis. (Video via The New York Times

The four guards claimed they were ambushed while escorting diplomatic officials and fired back in self-defense. (Video via American Heroes Channel)

And while early U.S. military reports found no evidence of such an ambush, Blackwater's founder Erik Prince said the guards were well-trained and wouldn't have fired without a reason. 

The case then went through years of legal turbulence, with a judge dismissing all charges against the men on New Year's Eve of 2009. More than a year later, an appeals court brought the case back to life.

Then in April, a federal court found that the prosecution missed a deadline on presenting evidence against one of the men, forcing them to upgrade their charge from manslaughter to first-degree murder. Now, the case has finished with jurors finding all four men guilty.

Nicholas Slatten, who the government says started the shooting, was convicted for first-degree murder. The others, Dustin Heard, Paul Slough and Evan Liberty, received multiple manslaughter and firearms convictions. (Video via Euronews)

There are many who think Prince himself should be behind bars as well, like a writer for The Intercept who says Prince's role as Blackwater's CEO during the crisis has been overlooked. (Video via ABC)

The case likely isn't over, though. The guards' lawyers plan to dispute the ruling and according to the National Law Journal, Heard's attorney denounced the verdict, saying it's "wrong, it's incomprehensible. We still think we're going to win."

Slatten faces a mandatory life-in-prison sentence for murder. Slough, Liberty and Heard all face a mandatory minimum of 30 years for the firearms charge with 15 years for each voluntary manslaughter charge.

This video includes an image from Getty Images.