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Sandra Yi ReportingThere's a protest planned at the Federal Building tomorrow. The family of an officer left brain dead after surgery at a military hospital will announce their plans to file a 5 million dollar lawsuit against the government.
Friends and family of Staff Sergeant Dean Witt will rally tomorrow afternoon. They still don't know how he died. They can't even get access to two investigations that were done after his death. Now they're fighting to change the law so other military families won't suffer.
Alexis Witt: "I want families in the military to have more than a folded flag handed to them at the funeral."
Staff Sergeant Dean Witt wasn't a casualty of war. He died at the hands of his own military.
Carlos Lopez, Brother-In-Law: “He was killed stateside by medical military personnel.
Witt went in for an appendectomy at a medical center on Travis Air Force Base in California and came out brain dead. Two years later his family still has no idea what killed him.
Carlos Lopez: "They will not tell us who was involved, who was present. They will not tell us the circumstances of what happened."
The one thing they do know is that when Witt's breathing tube was removed, he went without air for 15 minutes. His family eventually took him off life support. He died on January 9th of last year, leaving behind a wife and two small children. By law the family was not allowed to sue for negligence.
Alexis Witt: "The red tape is disgusting to me, that a man will serve seven years and do exactly everything that his superiors ask of him, and to be treated that way afterwards."
They have now filed a notice of claim against the U.S. government.
Carlos Lopez: "This is pro military families. This is protection of military rights, which right now, they don't have any."
Alexis Witt says her husband believed everyone should serve four years in the military. Witt says he loved the government that ultimately failed him.
Alexis Witt: "For him to have that strong opinion even before he went into surgery, and then have this happen and his family treated that way, I don't know if he'd feel the same way."
The family is calling on Congress to amend the Feres Doctrine, which prevents lawsuits by family of service people injured or killed in a military hospital. They also want to see Witt recognized for his service.
The US Air Force has six months to respond to the family's notice of claim.