Justice Department to Pay $88 Million to Families, Survivors of 2015 AME Church Shooting

Families and survivors of the June 15, 2015 shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina are set to get an agreed sum of $88million from the U.S. Justice Department. 

The shooting left nine members of the church dead. The families of the deceased had filed a lawsuit concerning a faulty background check that allowed the suspect, identified as Dylann Roof, to purchase the handgun he used for the shooting.

Before the sad incident, the Columbia S.C. police had Roof arrested for drug possession which should have restricted him from buying a firearm. Some clerical errors were made including a lack of due diligence which would have prevented Roof from buying the gun he later used in the church shooting.

According to court documents, one of the errors included wrongly listing the sheriff's office as the arresting agency instead of the Columbia Police Department. The shooting was described as the worst terrorist attack on an African American church in the past five decades.

"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," Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.

"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," he added.

According to CBN News, the $88 million settlement includes $25 million for the survivors of the shooting and $63 million for the families of the victims. 

The settlements range from $6 million to $7.5 million per claimant for the families of the slain, according to the Justice Department. However, the claims are still pending the approval of the judge.

In 2017, Roof became the first American to get a death sentence for a federal hate crime. Also, he was sentenced to nine consecutive life sentences after he pleaded guilty to state murder charges.

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