More delays in case by Emanuel victims against government


Another extension was granted this week in the case against the U.S. government by the families of the Emanuel AME shooting victims and survivors.

The government sough an extension earlier, saying the ongoing federal hate crimes trial and other cases warranted pushing back their response to the families' lawsuits.

Now government tort attorneys have until Feb. 24 to respond.

Also this week, attorneys arguing the 15 cases agreed to consolidate them into one case for the purposes of discovery.

Court documents show government attorneys were seeking to combine all of the cases into one, but attorneys for the families were only willing to consolidate for discovery opting instead to allow each family's case to proceed individually through the court process.

The families of the victims and survivors filed separate lawsuits in July and August, naming the U.S. government as a defendant in the negligence lawsuit because they say the federal database in place to prevent some people from making gun purchases failed.

If the agency had done its job, Roof's prior drug arrest would have shown up, and the bureau would have denied his purchase, the lawsuits filed this summer allege.

The lawsuits seek unspecified actual and compensatory damages.

FBI Director James Comey has said Roof shouldn't have been able to buy the gun and promised a full review. In a statement issued in July of 2015, Comey said the check by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System followed protocols.

He also said he believes the store where the gun was purchased was within the law when they sold Roof the gun.

Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon told the AP that a jail clerk entered incorrect information for Roof's February 2015 drug arrest, and that while the mistake was noticed within days, it wasn't fixed in a state database.

So when Roof sought to buy the gun two months later, an FBI examiner spotted the arrest, but called the wrong agency to get his record. Without the necessary documents, the purchase had to go through.

Congress has limited federal background checks to three days, although states can extend this window.

South Carolina legislators filed a number of bills to increase the window after the shootings, but none advanced.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off