Suit dismissed over faulty gun check for the church shoot

A judge has dismissed a lawsuit against the FBI about a failed background check that allowed Dylann Roof to buy the weapon he used to kill nine people in a racist attack at a South Carolina church.

But U. S. District Judge Richard Gergel also blasted the federal government for what he called her “hopelessly poor policy choices in how it runs with the national database for firearm background checks.

“The record shows that the FBI’s background check system is disturbingly superficial, micromanaged by means of a fixed standard operating procedures, and hindered by the policies that deny the overworked and overburdened examiners access to the most comprehensive law enforcement federal database,” Gergel wrote in the statement Monday.

The FBI has admitted that in 2015 drug charge should have prevented the Roof from the purchase of the gun, according to court documents. However, clerical errors by the local police prevented the background check and federal procedures limited other good ways are that the examiner can complete the examination, Gergel wrote.

Because the examiner followed agency procedures, the court to dismiss the lawsuit by the massacre of survivors and the grieving families. He said that the plaintiffs failed to prove that their cases fit within the narrow exceptions to laws that generally shield federal agencies and government employees in the performance of his official duties.

He wrote that “flagrant shortcomings” in the background check system, “the function of the different policy choices made by the FBI, no violation of a specific statutory standards.”

The roof was condemned to death in June 2015 shooting that killed nine black believers in Charleston Emanuel AME Church. Roof had told a friend that he intended to kill people on the historic black church to start a race war.

A lead lawyer for the plaintiffs suing the FBI did not respond to a message Wednesday.

Weeks before the church shooting, the Roof was arrested on 28 February 2015 by Columbia police on the drug possession count.

Lexington County Sheriff Jay Crown has told The Associated Press that a prison clerk entered incorrect data that arrest. That is one of the reasons that the payment was not good and considered during the Roof April 2015 gun buy.

The errors that wrongly is a list of the sheriff’s office as the arresting agency in the drug case, according to the court documents. An examiner with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System found some information about the arrest, but had more to deny the sale, so they sent a fax to the sheriff’s office. The sheriff’s office responded to the report, lead her to the Columbia police, the judge wrote.

But according to the operational procedures, the examiner could not simply search the internet for police contact information, the ruling says. They had to refer in place of a federal list of law enforcement agencies. However, the information that they needed was there: “Columbia was mistakenly omitted from the list,” the judge wrote.

After trying the separate West Columbia Police Department, and being told that it was the wrong body, the examiner did nothing more. Gergel wrote that the procedures do not require the examiner to make further efforts. He also noted the policy of the government to prevent examiners from the use of a separate federal database that had the information needed to deny a Roof, a gun to buy.

So, after three days of delay expired, the Roof back to a West Columbia shop to pick up the weapons that he later used in the massacre, court documents say.

FBI spokesmen do not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

Defense lawyers previously argued the agency was hampered by the legal restrictions on background checks and the local material errors. The system handles tens of thousands of checks daily.

The government lawyers wrote, in 2016, that while the board of examiners can impose three days of delays, “the FBI has no authority to prevent a sale if, after that three days has elapsed, has not yet found definitive information” to deny the purchase.


Drew reported from Raleigh, North Carolina. Associated Press writer Jeffrey Collins in Columbia, South Carolina, contributed to this report.


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