Families of the victims murdered during the 2015 mass shooting at a Charleston, S.C. church have settled with the Department Of Justice for a sum totaling $88 million.
According to CNN, the lawsuit was filed over the shooter, Dylann Roof’s ability to purchase the firearm used in the hateful act. In 2019, the federal appeals court ruled families could sue the government over negligence and missteps that resulted in Roof being able to buy a semiautomatic pistol.
The settlements range from $6 million to $7.5 million per claimant for those killed at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and $5 million per claimant for survivors of the shooting.
“Even though Clementa is not with us here physically, I know spiritually he is with us, and I know that he’s smiling down on us right now,” said Jennifer Pickney. Her husband, Rev. Clementa Pinckney was killed during the shooting.
The others murdered at the historically Black, Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church were Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, the Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, the Rev. Daniel Simmons, Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Myra Thompson, Ethel Lance, and Tywanza Sanders.
“Domestic terror, White domestic terror, is a real issue in this country,” said Bakari Sellers, one of the attorneys for the victims. “These individuals were killed because they were Black. That attack was not on First Baptist, that attack was on Mother Emanuel AME Church. So let’s not misconstrue what this issue is.”
“No amount of compensation will ever replace my father’s life but it allows me and my sister to have the opportunity to make sure we are doing everything we can to make sure my father’s legacy doesn’t go away,” Reverend Clementa Pinckney’s daughter told CBS News.
“I have a young daughter that has a fear of sitting in a church because she thinks somebody of a different color is going to come in there and open fire. Even with a settlement, this is a nightmare that will never end. I have to live with this for the rest of my life,” added Kayo Singleton, daughter of Myra Thompson.
According to the report, the DOJ will also grant more than $21 million to state and local agencies to help investigate and prosecute hate crimes.
Dylann Roof, who was 21 at the time of the shooting, was sentenced to death in 2017, becoming the first person set to be executed for a federal hate crime. According to the Associated Press, he told law enforcement he committed the crime to either bring back segregation or initiate a race war.
In August, a court upheld the sentencing after Roof’s legal team filed an appeal claiming he was not competent to stand trial and wrongly allowed to represent himself. Three judges unanimously rejected the appeal.
“Dylann Roof murdered African Americans at their church, during their Bible study and worship. They had welcomed him. He slaughtered them. He did so with the express intent of terrorizing not just his immediate victims at the historically important Mother Emanuel Church, but as many similar people as would hear of the mass murder,” the panel wrote in the ruling.
“No cold record or careful parsing of statutes and precedents can capture the full horror of what Roof did. His crimes qualify him for the harshest penalty that a just society can impose.”