Bakari Sellers, the attorney for the families of victims killed in the 2015 Mother Emanuel AME Church massacre, speaks with reporters outside the Justice Department, in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021. Families of nine victims killed in a racist attack at the Black South Carolina church have reached a settlement with the Justice Department over a faulty background check that allowed Dylann Roof to purchase the gun he used in the 2015 massacre. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

By J. K. Schmid
Special to the AFRO

Fourteen survivors of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church shooting have come to an $88 million settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

DOJ announced the settlement in an Oct. 28 release.

The parceled out payments range from $6 million to $7.5 million dollars for victims murdered in the shooting, and their surviving family. Survivors of the shooting will receive $5 million.

“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,” Eliana Pinckney, told reporters at a press conference.

Ms. Pinckney is the daughter of Reverend Clementa C. Pinckney, a state senator and one of Roof’s victims. She was 11 years old at the time of Rev. Pinckney’s murder.

“The mass shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church was a horrific hate crime that caused immeasurable suffering for the families of the victims and the survivors,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in the statement. “Since the day of the shooting, the Justice Department has sought to bring justice to the community, first by a successful hate crime prosecution and today by settling civil claims.”

Dylann Roof, the shooter, was sentenced to nine consecutive life sentences for the murders in South Carolina State Court in April 2017. A federal trial sentenced Roof to death in January 2017.

DOJ admitted that Roof should not have cleared an FBI background check. At the time Roof sought to purchase the murder weapon, he was facing a narcotics charge. DOJ says that if their background check system was working as promised, Roof would not have been able to legally purchase a gun.

“The FBI and NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Checks System) play a crucial role in combating gun violence,” the statement read. “Since this tragic shooting, the FBI has worked to strengthen and improve the background check process.”

However, DOJ does not explain how it, the FBI or NICS would prevent another such massacre from happening.

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