Judge dismisses wrongful death lawsuit in Charleston church shooting

By Danielle Haynes Follow @DanielleHaynes1 Contact the Author   |  June 19, 2018 at 6:46 PM
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June 19 (UPI) -- A federal judge dismissed wrongful death lawsuits against the FBI for negligence related to a 2015 shooting at a predominantly black church in Charleston, S.C.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel said Monday that though he's dismissing the case, the FBI could fix the background check system that allowed Dylan Roof to purchase a gun he used in the shooting at Emanuel AME Church.

The families of those killed and survivors sued the FBI in 2016 saying that had Roof's background check been properly completed, he wouldn't have legally been able to purchase a firearm.

Gergel, though, said the people using the background check system followed policy but were unsuccessful in retrieving Roof's criminal history. He called the policy "nonsense," "outdated" and "hopelessly stuck in 1995."

"Perhaps the FBI, learning fully the details of the failure of its system in this tragic series of events, will promptly take corrective steps to prevent a similar' failure of the system in the future," Gergel said.

Roof, a self-proclaimed white supremacist, was convicted of 33 hate-related crimes in December 2016. He was sentenced to death for the shooting that killed nine people.

The plaintiffs said the FBI failed to manage its own database or perform a proper background check on Roof when he purchased a Glock .45-caliber handgun and applied for a background check; a prior arrest, for possession of medication without a prescription, should have eliminated him from purchasing the weapon.

A month after the church massacre, former FBI Director James Comey publicly admitted a failure in completing Roof's background check, blaming incomplete and inaccurate paperwork. An incorrect arresting agency was listed on Roof's record, and the background check was not completed within the three-day waiting period.

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