Victims of SC church massacre reached a significant settlement with the Justice Department over a faulty background check that allowed Dylann Roof to purchase the gun he used in the 2015 massacre.
Dylann Roof killed nine people in the 2015 massacre, after a faulty background check that allowed him to purchase a firearm.
The FBI has acknowledged that Roof’s previous drug possession arrest should have prohibited him from buying a gun.
Authorities said Roof opened fire during a Bible study at the church when he was only 21 years old. Roof then became the first person in the United States who was sentenced to death for a federal hate crime in 2017.
The attorney who helped broker the agreement, Bakari Sellers, told The Associated Press the “88” figure was purposeful.
It’s a number typically associated with white supremacy and the number of bullets Roof said he had taken with him to the attack.
“We’ve given a big ‘F you’ to white supremacy and racism. We’re doing that by building generational wealth in these Black communities, from one of the most horrific race crimes in the country,” Sellers said.
Months before the June 17, 2015, church shooting, Roof was arrested on Feb. 28 by Columbia, South Carolina, police on the drug possession charge. But a series of clerical errors and missteps allowed Roof to buy the handgun he later used in the massacre.
After a three-day waiting period, Roof went back to a West Columbia store to pick up the handgun.
The lawsuit for a time was thrown out, with a judge writing that an examiner followed procedures but also blasting the federal government for what he called its “abysmally poor policy choices” in how it runs the national database for firearm background checks. The suit was subsequently reinstated by a federal appeals court.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said, “The mass shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church was a horrific hate crime that caused immeasurable suffering for the families of the victims and the survivors,
Since the day of the shooting, the Justice Department has sought to bring justice to the community, first by a successful hate crime prosecution and today by settling civil claims.”
“All nine of these families have been so strong, and they deserve this closure,” Sellers said.
“Of course we wanted more, but this is just, and this is justice, and finally, these families can say that they got it.”
The settlement is the largest individual civil rights settlement in the country’s history, WSOC reported.
Relatives of the nine killed during the racially driven attack on the Charleston Church, as well as the five survivors, initially filed the suit in South Carolina civil court back in 2016, the year after the shooting.
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