Families of Charleston Nine Killed in South Carolina Church Massacre Reach $88 Million Settlement With Justice Department

The Justice Department reached an $88 million settlement with the families of nine Black parishioners who were killed by a white supremacist in a South Carolina church in 2015, and with survivors of the shooting, the authorities and lawyers said on Thursday.

The settlement includes millions for families of the victims and survivors of the shooting, in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, a historically Black church in Charleston.

The survivors and the victims’ families had sued the government for wrongful death and physical injuries, accusing the authorities of negligence in the background check system that allowed the gunman to purchase a firearm, the department said. The settlement amounts range from $6 million to $7.5 million for those killed, and $5 million for survivors, the department said in a statement.

“This is what the law is about. We cannot bring back those nine victims. We cannot erase the scars that those survivors have,” Bakari Sellers, one of the lawyers for the families, said Thursday at a news conference in Washington, D.C. “But what we do here today as lawyers in these families is we say we stand on justice.”

“These victims were the best of the best of us” Mr. Sellers said.

The court must approve the settlements for many of the plaintiffs, the Justice Department said.

The lawsuits alleged that the F.B.I.’s National Instant Criminal Background Checks System failed to discover in a “timely” manner that the gunman, Dylann S. Roof, had been prohibited by federal law from possessing a firearm, the department’s statement said.

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SOURCE: The New York Times, Christine Hauser and Isabella Grullón Paz

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