The families of 9 people killed by Dylann Roof in 2015 and 5 survivors of the Charleston shooting will split the money.
The Justice Department announced Thursday an $ 88 million settlement with the victims of a white supremacist who shot and killed nine black parishioners in South Carolina in 2015.
The settlement stems from allegations that the FBI was negligent when it failed to prohibit the sale of a weapon by a licensed firearms dealer to the attacker, Dylan Roof, the Justice Department said.
Roof, 27, a self-proclaimed white supremacist who wanted to start a “race war” has been sentenced to death for the massacre at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. He was convicted in December 2016 on 33 federal charges, including hate crimes that resulted in death. He later pleaded guilty to nine state counts of murder, in order to avoid the death penalty in those cases.
On the night of the murders, Roof, then 21, had joined a Wednesday Bible study group at church before shooting those who prayed.
It was later discovered that he had a website with photos of himself posing with neo-Nazi and white supremacist symbols.
“The mass shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church was a horrific hate crime that caused immeasurable suffering to the families of the victims and survivors,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland, announcing the settlement.
“Since the day of the shooting, the Justice Department has sought to bring justice to the community, first through a successful prosecution for hate crimes and today through the resolution of civil lawsuits.”
Bakari Sellers, a lawyer who helped negotiate the deal, told The Associated Press that the “88” figure served a purpose. It’s a number typically associated with white supremacy and the number of bullets that Roof said was carried into the attack.
Months before the June 17, 2015 church shooting, Roof was arrested on February 28, 2015 by police in Columbia, South Carolina on the drug possession charge. But a series of clerical errors and mishaps allowed Roof to buy the pistol he later used in the massacre.
The litigation began in 2016 and continued through the district court and federal appeals court, the department said.
The lawsuit was dismissed for a time, and a judge wrote that an examiner followed the procedures, but also criticized the federal government for what it called its “abysmally poor policy options” on how it handles the national database for gun background checks. of fire. The lawsuit was later reinstated by a federal appeals court.
The Justice Department said the settlement resolved claims from the families of the nine shooting victims and the five survivors who were inside the church at the time of the shooting.
He said the settlements range from $ 6 million to $ 7.5 million for the families of the nine victims and $ 5 million each for the five survivors.
The families of the “Emanuel Nine” and the survivors sued the government for wrongful death and physical injury.
They claimed that the FBI’s Instant National Criminal Background Check System failed to discover in a timely manner that federal law prohibited Roof from possessing a firearm.
“The department hopes that these agreements, combined with the prosecution of the attacker, will bring a modicum of justice to the victims of this heinous act of hatred,” said Deputy Attorney General Vanita Gupta.
Among those killed was the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, pastor of AME Emanuel Church, a state senator, as well as other pillars of the community. They all shared a deep devotion to the church, known as Mother Emanuel, and passed on that faith to their families, many of whom offered forgiveness to Roof when he appeared in court a few days after the attack.
The FBI has acknowledged that Roof’s drug possession arrest should have prevented him from purchasing a weapon.