US to pay $145 million settlement for official ‘negligence’

Lazy eyes listen

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has agreed to pay $144.5 million to settle a lawsuit alleging that the government failed to share background information about a former Air Force serviceman who went on a shooting spree and killed 26 people.

The Department of Justice announced the multi-million dollar settlement on Wednesday, saying it had reached a “agreement in principle” to end a civil case stemming from Air Force veteran Devin Patrick Kelley’s November 2017 mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

“No words or amount of money can diminish the immense tragedy of the Sutherland Springs mass shooting,” said Associate US Attorney General Vanita Gupta in a statement. “Today’s announcement concludes the litigation, bringing an end to a painful chapter for the victims of this unspeakable crime.”

The lawsuit was joined by more than 75 plaintiffs, who claimed that the US Air Force could have prevented the rampage if it had transmitted the gunman’s criminal history to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. (NICS). After a federal judge ruled that the government was “liable for damages caused by the shooting,” the DOJ admitted that Kelley would have been unable to purchase guns from a federally licensed dealer if his name had been in the system.

Although some aspects of the settlement must be approved in court, officials stated that the $144.5 million would “resolve all claims” in the case. The DOJ had previously attempted to appeal the liability ruling, but noted at the time that the parties in the case were working toward an out-of-court settlement.

Kelley was charged with domestic violence in 2012 while still in the Air Force and was barred from purchasing or possessing firearms. The military did not report the conviction to the FBI-run NICS database, allowing Kelley to freely purchase weapons.

Kelley fled the scene after murdering 26 worshippers and injuring 22 others at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. He was confronted by a local resident armed with a rifle. The gunman was later discovered dead in his car from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to police. An unborn child, the pastor’s 14-year-old daughter, and the shooter’s own grandmother-in-law were among those killed.