Witness: Navy SEAL said he ‘choked out’ Green Beret who died

WASHINGTON — One of the Navy SEALs being investigated in the death of a Green Beret in Africa told a witness that he "choked [him] out" in the pre-dawn hours of June 4 and that he and another SEAL were out "to get back" at the victim for a perceived offense that night, according to documents from an Army investigation obtained by NBC News.

Navy SEAL Tony DeDolph, 38, initially told investigators that he was wrestling with Army Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar in Melgar's room at 4 a.m. when fellow SEAL Adamcranston Matthews entered the room. Then, according to DeDolph and Matthews, the three fell onto Melgar's bed, with Matthews on top of Melgar.

Once the SEALs got off of Melgar, according to the account they gave investigators, they realized he wasn't breathing and attempted CPR and tried to open up an air path in his throat.

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U.S. Green Beret soldiers walk inside the 103rd Philippine Army Brigade camp near Isabela, capital of the southern island of Basilan, after arriving there on February 17, 2002. The Green Beret commandos flew to the island infested with Muslim guerrilas on Sunday and said although they were on a training mission, they were prepared to fight. REUTERS/Erik de Castro EDC/JD
U.S. Green Beret soldiers walk with a Philippine military officer (5th L) after arriving at the 103rd Army Brigade headquarters near Isabela, capital of the southern island of Basilan, on February 17, 2002. The Green Beret commandos flew to the island infested with Muslim guerrilas on Sunday and said although they were on a training mission, they were prepared to fight. REUTERS/Erik de Castro EDC/JD
A Philippine soldier (C) joins two American soldiers as they survey an athletic field for possible use as a landing area in Isabela on Basilan island February 17, 2002, in the southern Philippines. United States Green Beret commandos flew into Basilan, home to the Abu Sayyaf Musilm guerrila group and said although they were on a training mission, they were prepared to fight. REUTERS/Erik de Castro EDC/RCS
A U.S. Green Beret commando stands guard while colleagues alight from a MH-47 helicopter on Basilan island February 17, 2002. [United States Green Beret commandos flew into Basilan to hold training exercises with their Philippine counterparts.]
Members of the Green Berets observe a moment of silence during the Horse Soldier Monument Rededication ceremony in front the World Trade Center in New York October 19, 2012. The Green Berets were some 200 soldiers who joined the Northern Alliance against the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001 and used horses to move about the rugged terrain much more effectively than conventional modes of transportation. The statue was erected in honor of these soldiers. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri (UNITED STATES - Tags: MILITARY ANIMALS ANNIVERSARY)
U.S. GREEN BERET SOLDIERS CARRY EQUIPMENT INSIDE A PHILIPPINE ARMY CAMP AFTER ARRIVING ON BASILAN ISLAND. U.S. Green Beret soldiers carry their equipment inside the 103rd Philippine Army Brigade camp near Isabela, capital of the southern island of Basilan, after arriving there on February 17, 2002. The Green Beret commandos flew to the island infested with Muslim guerrilas on Sunday and said although they were on a training mission, they were prepared to fight. REUTERS/Erik de Castro
A detachment of 1st Special Forces Group Green Berets from Ft. Lewis, Washington carry the flag draped coffin of Sgt. 1st Class Nathan Chapman during burial services at Tahoma National Cemetery in Covington, Washington, January 11, 2002. Chapman was the first American killed by direct enemy fire in Afghanistan.
A U.S. Green Beret soldier takes cover as he helps secure the perimetre around where his colleagues were landing at the 103rd Army Brigade headquarters near Isabela, capital of the southern island of Basilan, on February 17, 2002. The Green Beret commandos flew to the island infested with Muslim guerrilas on Sunday and said although they were on a training mission, they were prepared to fight. REUTERS/Erik de Castro EDC/JD
MARBLEHEAD, MA - JUNE 27: U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers carry the casket of their fallen comrade, Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Piper June 27, 2005 during his funeral procession in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Piper, a special forces soldier, was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan earlier this month. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
TALOQUAN, NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN - AUGUST 28: U.S. Army Special Forces soldier nicknamed 'Cowboy' and others secure an airstrip during an operation August 28, 2002 in the town of Taloquan in Northern Afghanistan. U.S. Special Forces have recently begun to step up their presence in Northern Afghanistan to more aggressively pursue possible al Qaeda and Taliban fugitives they believe to be operating in the region. (Photo by Scott Nelson/Getty Images)
KUNDUZ, NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN - AUGUST 26: Spent cartridges fly as U.S. Army Special Forces soldier nicknamed 'Bones' practices his marksmanship with an M-4 automatic rifle at a range near the town of Kunduz August 26, 2002 in Northern Afghanistan. U.S. Special Forces have recently begun to step up their presence in Northern Afghanistan to more aggressively pursue possible al Qaeda and Taliban fugitives they believe to be operating in the region. The horseback patrols are an invaluable tool for the soldiers, allowing them to patrol narrow streets or alleys as well as other terrain that would otherwise be inaccessable by truck. (Photo by Scott Nelson/Getty Images)
KUNDUZ, NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN - AUGUST 26: U.S. Army Special Forces soldier nicknamed 'Mike' (R) raises his arms in celebration after gunning down a target with his side arm while on a target range near the town of Kunduz August 26, 2002 in Northern Afghanistan. U.S. Special Forces have recently begun to step up their presence in Northern Afghanistan to more aggressively pursue possible al Qaeda and Taliban fugitives they believe to be operating in the region. (Photo by Scott Nelson/Getty Images)
TALOQUAN, NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN - AUGUST 28: U.S. Army Special Forces helicopters land on an airstrip during an operation August 28, 2002 in the town of Taloquan in Northern Afghanistan. U.S. Special Forces have recently begun to step up their presence in Northern Afghanistan to more aggressively pursue possible al Qaeda and Taliban fugitives they believe to be operating in the region. (Photo by Scott Nelson/Getty Images)
PHILIPPINES - FEBRUARY 22: Us Special Forces In The Philippines On February 22Th, 2002 In Island Of Basilan, Philippines. On Basilan Island. The 160-Men Group Of Us Green Berets Is Complete. They Were Scattered In Different Camps Surrounding Members Of The Abu Sayyaf Islamist Group In The Southwest Jungle Near Maluso. (Photo by Patrick AVENTURIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
405876 02: U.S. Army Green Berets, acting as military advisors, talk before a ceremony at a military academy May 27, 2002 in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. The U.S. Army innagurated a two-year program in an attempt to upgrade the Georgian military to a force capable of taking on terrorists allegedly holed up in the former Soviet republic. (Photo by Getty Images)
405871 04: Afghan soldiers negotiate an obstacle course as part of a competition at an Afghan National Army (ANA) training facility May 27, 2002 in Kabul, Afghanistan. U.S. Army Green Berets are currently conducting a ten week training course for the Afghan Army in the hope that a better trained military will mean a more stable Afghanistan. (Photo by Scott Nelson/Getty Images)
405871 01: An unidentified U.S. Army Green Beret from the 3rd Special Forces Group from Fort Bragg, NC watches as Afghan soldiers do pushups as part of a competition at an Afghan National Army (ANA) training facility May 27, 2002 in Kabul, Afghanistan. The Green Berets are currently conducting a ten week training course for the Afghan Army in the hope that a better trained military will mean a more stable Afghanistan. (Photo by Scott Nelson/Getty Images)
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The SEALs' account, which appears in the Army Criminal Investigative Command's preliminary investigative report dated Sept. 15, suggests a moment of horseplay gone wrong.

But a third witness told investigators that DeDolph and Matthews were among several individuals who were upset with Melgar "after they felt he intentionally tried to evade them while he was driving to a party."

That night, the group made "numerous comments" on how "to get back" at Melgar, according to the witness quoted in the document.

After Melgar's death, according to the document, "DeDolph admitted to the witness that he 'choked Logan out.'"

The witness also said that DeDolph indicated he and Matthews "and possibly other individuals" had used "duct tape" on Melgar, but had left that out of their interviews about the death because they were afraid it would be considered hazing.

The new information comes after the Daily Beast reported Sunday that Melgar had discovered that the SEALs were pocketing money from a counterterrorism fund that was used to pay local informants for information.

The Pentagon did not address the specific accusations in the Daily Beast report, but Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, said, "I caution against speculating about this incident before the full investigation is complete."

The former head of special operations in Africa told NBC News that special operators do have access to cash on the ground in countries like Mali. "All our special operation forces have access to funds in order for them to be able to provide subsistence to themselves and do other operational requirements as long as it's in their authority to do so," said Ret. Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc.

"If true that the Navy SEALs were involved in the death of Staff Sgt. Melgar, this is something that would be a huge tragedy and something that I have not witnessed in my entire career," he said.

NBC News attempted to leave messages for relatives of both SEALs, but they could not be reached for comment.

The Navy Criminal Investigative Service referred questions to the Navy's Special Warfare Development Group in Virginia Beach, the home base of the two SEALs, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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