SAN JOSE, Calif. â€” Patrick K. Tillman stood outside his law office here, staring intently at a yellow house across the street, just over 70 yards away. That, he recalled, is how far away his eldest son, Pat, who gave up a successful N.F.L. career to become an Army Ranger, was standing from his fellow Rangers when they shot him dead in Afghanistan almost two years ago.
“I could hit that house with a rock,” Mr. Tillman said. “You can see every last detail on that place, everything, and you’re telling me they couldn’t see Pat?”
Mr. Tillman, 51, is a grieving father who has refused to give up on his son. While fiercely shunning the public spotlight that has followed Cpl. Pat Tillman’s death, Mr. Tillman has spent untold hours considering the Army’s measurements, like the 70 yards.
He has drafted long, sometimes raw, letters to military leaders, demanding answers about the shooting. And he has studied â€” and challenged â€” Army PowerPoint presentations meant to explain how his son, who had called out his own name and waved his arms, wound up dead anyway, shot three times in the head by his own unit, which said it had mistaken him for the enemy.
“All I asked for is what happened to my son, and it has been lie after lie after lie,” said Mr. Tillman, explaining that he believed the matter should remain “between me and the military” but that he had grown too troubled to keep silent.
As the second anniversary of the death of Corporal Tillman, once a popular safety for the Arizona Cardinals, approaches, Mr. Tillman, his former wife, Mary, and other family members remain frustrated by the Army’s handling of the killing but for the first time may be close to getting some of the answers they so desperately seek.