After years of litigation, the families of the nine victims murdered in a Charleston church shooting have settled with the Justice Department.
The families sued after the FBI’s investigation revealed the system used for conducting background checks failed to flag the sale of the gun convicted shooter Dylann Roof used to kill nine black people at Mother Emmanuel AME Church.
“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,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “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.”
On June 17, 2015, Mother Emanuel congregants welcomed Roof, a stranger who had entered their church, to participate in their Wednesday night bible study. Tragically, at the close of the bible study, he killed nine people, including Mother Emanuel’s pastor, Reverend Clementa Pinckney. Pinckney was also a South Carolina State Senator.
“The settlement doesn’t do anything to change or alter the existing landscape” of gun sales and background checks, Mullins McLeod, a Charleston attorney who helped litigate the Emanuel victims’ lawsuits, said in Washington Thursday. “But what it does do is, I think it shares with everyone how significant and important a job the FBI understands their role is and how well of a job they do,” he said. “This settlement is a beacon for all of us and a reminder that justice does exist.”
The other victims of the Mother Emanuel AME Church massacre were Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Tywanza Sanders, Rev. Daniel L. Simmons Sr. and Myra Thompson.
Dylann Roof is a self-proclaimed white supremacist who wanted to start a “race war” and specifically targeted the 200-year-old historically African-American congregation.
He was allowed to purchase the gun because of a weakness in the background check process, the so-called “Charleston loophole.”
The “loophole” allows gun dealers to complete sales after three days if the FBI has not completed a buyer’s background check.
Roof was convicted and sentenced to death in federal court in January 2017.
A federal appeals court upheld Roof’s conviction and death sentence this summer. He remains on federal death row in a maximum-security facility in Indiana.