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Feds Appeal Penalty for Liability in Mass Shooting

Keith G. Langer Aug. 15, 2022

From today's Washington Post:

"Twenty-six people were killed and 20 others were wounded in the attack, including Ryland, who was shot at least four times at close range...

Like Ryland, many who were directly affected by the shooting continue to suffer physical and emotional pain years later. But their anguish has been exacerbated by a legal battle with the federal government over its failure to stop gunman Devin Kelley from purchasing his weapons — by forwarding information about his violent past that would have been caught in a background check. After survivors were forced to paint in excruciating detail the enduring toll of the massacre, a federal judge found the government liable.

Yet the Department of Justice gave notice in June it planned to appeal, although more recently it has opened the possibility of a settlement. Its grounds for an appeal are not yet known, but in the trial it argued that background checks would not have stopped the bloodshed — a position that clashes with the Biden administration's strong support of background checks and tightened restrictions on access to weapons.

Dozens of Sutherland Springs victims, including Ryland's mother, brought the suit against the United States Air Force in 2018 after the branch admitted it failed to report Kelley's history of violence, including a 2012 conviction for domestic assault to the FBI. That conviction, which led to his dismissal from the Air Force, should have prevented the former airman from being able to buy the guns he used in the attack, which ended with Kelley's suicide.

U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez found the Air Force was 60 percent liable for the shooting, citing disturbing details uncovered in the case, including that Air Force officials were aware Kelley had previously researched and threatened a mass shooting and had a history of severe mental health issues that led officials to declare him to be “dangerous” and “a threat.”

According to testimony and evidence in the case, Air Force officials were so alarmed by the gunman's threats of violence that he was permanently barred not only from the New Mexico air base where he served, but all bases around the country. Yet officials still failed to report his conviction to the FBI or warn others of his potential for violence, a decision that Rodriguez condemned in a July 2021 ruling, which dismissed the government's argument that Kelley's violence was “unforeseeable.”

In February, Rodriguez ordered the government to pay more than $230 million to 84 victims and survivors. But the government's appeal has delayed any final outcome, leaving survivors struggling to pay expensive, ongoing medical bills and feeling betrayed by their own government."

Story HERE:

Compounding failure with disregard.