US reaches $100m settlement with Black victims of white supremacist

White supremacist Dylann Roof (left) shot dead nine Black churchgoers in South Carolina in 2015, at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (right). PHOTOS: AFP, REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States Justice Department announced an US$88 million (S$118 million) settlement on Thursday (Oct 28) with victims of a white supremacist who shot dead nine Black churchgoers in South Carolina in 2015.

The settlement stems from allegations that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was negligent when it failed to prohibit the sale of a gun by a licensed firearms dealer to the shooter, Dylann Roof, the Justice Department said.

Roof, 27, a self-proclaimed white supremacist, is facing the death penalty for the massacre at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.

"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 Garland said, announcing the settlement.

"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."

The Justice Department said the settlement resolves claims from the families of the nine victims of the shooting and from the five survivors who were inside the church at the time of the shooting.

It said the settlements range from US$6 million to US$7.5 million for relatives of the nine victims, and US$5 million each for the five survivors.

The families of the "Emanuel Nine" and the survivors sued the government for wrongful death and physical injuries.

They claimed the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Checks System had failed to discover in a timely manner that Roof was prohibited by federal law from possessing a firearm.

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