The Justice Department agreed Thursday to pay $88 million to families and survivors of the 2015 deadly church shooting in Charleston, S.C., since its gun background check system failed.
A federal jury sentenced White supremacist Dylann Roof to death in January 2017 after he openly admitted to killing nine people at the historic Black church Mother Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church during a bible study in an attempt to spark a race war. A month before the sentencing the jury convicted him on 33 federal charges, including hate crimes.
Roof, who had just turned 21, was arrested for a felony drug offense in Lexington County, S.C., a few months before he purchased the Glock 41 semi-automatic pistol used to kill nine people on June 17, 2015. An examiner for the FBI’s background check system failed to contact the arresting agency for an incident report, which would have blocked him from purchasing the gun from Shooter’s Choice in West Columbia, S.C., court records show.
The settlement in the lawsuit against the illegal gun purchase will provide $63 million for family members of the victims and $23 million for survivors, NBC News reported.
About a year ago, a federal judge ruled that a federal agent failed to follow the FBI’s system for conducting background check ruled under the Brady Act, which denies gun purchases to someone with a felony allowing lawsuits by family members and survivors to proceed.
More recently, a federal appeals court refused to have its full panel of judges hear an appeal of Roof’s death sentence. Roof had petitioned the court in August after a three-judge panel voted unanimously to uphold the death sentence.
Roof’s lawyers said prosecutors emphasized the goodness of the nine victims and that violated Supreme Court precedent.
South Carolina state Sen. Clementa Pickney, 41, who was also a church pastor, Cynthia Hurd, 54; Tywanza Sanders, 26, Myra Thompson, 59; Ethel Lance, 70; Susie Jackson, 87; DePayne Middleton Doctor, 49; Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45; and Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74, died in the 2015 shooting.
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