Justice Department, survivors and family of slain Charleston worshipers reach $ 88 million settlement for FBI failing to prevent Dylan Roof’s purchase of guns


The US Department of Justice reached a settlement of $ 88 million in lawsuits brought by the families of nine worshipers killed who were gunned down by a self-proclaimed white supremacist Dylann roof in Charleston, South Carolina, six years ago.

The victims – Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Cynthia Hurd, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Ethel Lance, Susie Jackson, Myra Thompson and Rev. Daniel Simmons – attended an evening service at the historically , the Black Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church when Roof shot the worshipers down.

Nine victims of the Charleston Church shooting. Top row: Cynthia Hurd, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton Middle Row: Daniel Simmons, Rev. Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Tywanza Sanders Bottom row: Myra Thompson, Ethel Lee Lance, Susie Jackson. Collage courtesy of NBC News.

Their families, 14 plaintiffs, have filed a series of negligence lawsuits against the FBI, arguing the incident could have been avoided had the agency’s background check focused on Roof’s felony charge.

It never did. Instead, after submitting his information and waiting three days – the period during which the FBI could have blocked the purchase of a firearm while the screening was complete – Roof purchased a Glock 41. Two months more he later targeted the black church.

Families of those killed will receive compensation, DOJ says from $ 6 million to $ 7.5 million, and survivors will receive settlements of $ 5 million.

“The mass shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church was a horrific hate crime which caused immeasurable suffering to the families of the victims and survivors,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland.

“Since the day of the shooting, the Justice Department has sought to bring justice to the community, first through a successful hate crime prosecution and today through settling the civil lawsuits. “

Reverend Pickney’s daughter says the Justice Department’s decision helps push the needle forward in the country by acknowledging racism.

“For the first time, I think, in so long… as a young African American woman, to see the government recognize that racism still exists and how prevalent it is in our community. and then actively trying to combat it in any way possible and recognize gun violence as a problem and do whatever it takes to correct a mistake… is so important, ”she said.

In 2017, Roof pleaded guilty to nine counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder and one charge of weapons for the massacre he spent months planning. He became the first person in US history to be sentenced to death for committing a federal hate crime.

In August 2021, he appealed unsuccessfully against his conviction and sentence. In its ruling, a three-judge panel said Roof slaughtered nine blacks who welcomed him to worship.

“He did so with the express intention of terrorizing not only his immediate victims at the historically important Mother Emanuel Church, but also many similar people would hear of the mass murder.”

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