Victim's husband speaks on settlement in 2015 Charleston Church shooting

The lawsuit alleged that the FBI was negligent in performing a background check.

October 29, 2021, 7:19 PM

The relatives of those killed in the 2015 Charleston Church shooting are speaking out after they came to an $88 million settlement with the federal government over allegations the FBI was negligent in performing a background check on shooter Dylann Roof.

Rev. Anthony Thompson, whose wife was slain in the attack, said that the settlement brought some closure in "the tragedy of his life."

"It's been a long and tedious road and a lot of pain, a lot of suffering," said Thompson. "It's been hard to move my life forward because of all the legalities involved. Having to appear in court, having to send pictures and just revisit this whole situation time after time."

PHOTO: In this April 10, 2017, file photo, Dylann Roof enters the court room at the Charleston County Judicial Center to enter his guilty plea on murder charges in Charleston, S.C.
In this April 10, 2017, file photo, Dylann Roof enters the court room at the Charleston County Judicial Center to enter his guilty plea on murder charges in Charleston, S.C.
Grace Beahm/The Post And Courier via AP, Pool, File

Months before Roof opened fire at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and killed nine in a racist attack, he was arrested on drug possession charges. Despite having a prior criminal history, Roof was still able to purchase the handgun used in the massacre.

"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," said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland in a statement released Thursday. "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."

Roof's victims include Clementa Pinckney, Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Simmons, Sharonda Colemen-Singleton and Myra Thompson.

Roof, who is a self-declared white supremacist, was convicted of 33 federal hate crime and murder charges. He was sentenced to death in 2017.

PHOTO: In this June 19, 2015, file photo, a woman cries at a makeshift memorial outside Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C.
In this June 19, 2015, file photo, a woman cries at a makeshift memorial outside Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C.
Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images, FILE

Although Thompson said no amount of money can bring back his wife, he called the Justice Department's settlement "fair" and said he's glad to be able to move on in his life.

Thompson's lawyer, Mullins McLeod, said that the settlement sends a bigger message.

"Unfortunately, in America, African Americans have not always experienced equal justice in our courts," said McLeod. "This settlement, where the defendant is the most powerful nation on earth, sends a powerful message that justice does exist."

PHOTO: The Rev. Anthony Thompson, his wife Myra was killed while leading Bible study during the 2015 Mother Emanuel AME Church shooting in South Carolina, speaks with reporters outside the Justice Department, in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 28, 2021.
The Rev. Anthony Thompson, his wife Myra was killed while leading Bible study during the 2015 Mother Emanuel AME Church shooting in South Carolina, speaks with reporters outside the Justice Department, in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 28, 2021.
Cliff Owen/AP

Thompson has both publicly and privately forgiven Roof for the attack. He said that expressing forgiveness has brought the Charleston community closer together.

"The community of Charleston [has] a history of slavery here. ... Even in my lifetime, I've experienced discrimination [and] racism, on the job, in schools," said Thompson. "After [the church] expressed our forgiveness, there was a change. Our community came together."

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