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Old July 8, 2021, 02:07 PM   #1
thallub
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Federal Judge Finds USAF Responsible For Texas Church Massacre

By failing to report an airman to NICS the USAF bears 60 percent of blame for the massacre.

"A federal judge ruled that the U.S. Air Force bears primary responsibility for ]the Sutherland Springs massacre because it failed to enter the shooter's criminal history into a database that should have kept him from buying guns, the Associated Press reports.

In a ruling signed Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez in San Antonio said the Air Force was “60% responsible” for the 2017 shooting by Devin Patrick Kelley that left 26 people dead at Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church, according to the AP. The church is located 30 minutes southeast of the Alamo City.
"

https://www.sacurrent.com/the-daily/...rings-massacre
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Old July 8, 2021, 03:04 PM   #2
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SO, does that mean that judge thinks that the guy who aimed, pulled the trigger, and killed people is only "40% responsible" for the actions he committed of his own free will???

What is WRONG with these people?????

The Air Force is responsible for not passing on the information, and so has a role in the guy getting a gun. That is clear. But how the heck is the Air Force responsible for him shooting people, 60% or ANY percent??
He did that, the Air Force didn't.
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Old July 8, 2021, 04:28 PM   #3
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Crazy.

Quote:
Rodriguez [the judge that found the Air Force 60% responsible] ordered attorneys to prepare for a later trial that will decide the damages the federal government must pay to the victims' families who brought the suit, the AP reports.

The ruling comes two weeks after the Texas Supreme Court ruled that survivors and relatives of the dead couldn't sue Academy Sports and Outdoors, the chain where Kelly bought the AR-556 rifle used in the shooting.
It will be very interesting to see how the next court case plays out.

Question for the legal folk, could THIS ruling, the 60% ruling, be appealed?
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Old July 8, 2021, 05:34 PM   #4
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This appears to be a civil trial, not a criminal trial, correct? So the judge is attempting to apportion among those who will pay civil damages to the survivors. The murderer is deceased and is unlikely to have any assets to distribute to the survivors, and previously a suit against the seller of the firearm was tossed out by the Texas Supreme Court. So who is left to pay? The only deep pockets left are the US Government, under the guise of the Air Force (and taxpayers). I take this not that the Air Force is 60% at fault, but that they're going to pay 60% of any award of damages.
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Old July 8, 2021, 08:28 PM   #5
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... I take this not that the Air Force is 60% at fault, but that they're going to pay 60% of any award of damages.
So what happens if USAF decides to ignore the judgement? I'm confident the local sheriff isn't going to saunter onto a base and seize a plane for satisfaction of the judgement?
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Old July 8, 2021, 09:21 PM   #6
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The USAF will pay, and not appeal.
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Old July 9, 2021, 02:11 AM   #7
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Just out of curiosity, if the Judge ruled the Air Force must pay 60% of the damages sought by victim"s families, where is the other 40% supposed to come from???
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Old July 9, 2021, 07:12 AM   #8
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....where is the other 40% supposed to come from???
Bingo... never addressed.
The world wonders....
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Old July 9, 2021, 08:27 AM   #9
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The USAF will pay up. There was a general failure by the US military to report felons and domestic abusers to NICS:

Quote:
A review by the United States Air Force has found several dozen cases where the military failed to report service members convicted of serious crimes to the federal gun background-check databases, Air Force officials said on Tuesday.

“The error in the Kelley case was not an isolated incident and similar reporting lapses occurred at other locations,” the Air Force said in a statement. “Although policies and procedures requiring reporting were in place, training and compliance measures were lacking.”
https://redstate.com/arbogast/2017/1...-system-n80354

After the massacre the US military reported 4,000 people with dishonorable discharges to NICS.

https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/12/us/gu...nvs/index.html
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Old July 10, 2021, 11:18 AM   #10
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The case is Holcombe vs United states

The judge's decision is 99 pages:

https://storage.courtlistener.com/re...34.452.0_1.pdf
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Old July 10, 2021, 01:48 PM   #11
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I made it about half way through. Most of the first half is just the shooter's history of domestic abuse. He was quite a piece of work. And the USAF IG's report explicitly found that they (the USAF) had dropped the ball.
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Old July 11, 2021, 01:02 PM   #12
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Clearly the Air Force failed its responsibility. I think, the reason might be that the Air Force (and all the military) operates under the UCMJ and last I knew, there is noting directly in the UCMJ about offences being disqualifiers for civilian firearms ownership.

And while they (as a group) do know that they have to check civilian law and report disqualifying offenses to the FBI (or whomever), the individuals doing the paperwork may not know, or even realize they don't know that they are supposed to do that. The supervisors know, but the pvts & cpls doing the paperwork may not, or may know but don't understand the significance and so things get lost, fall through the cracks, etc.

This is training issue in the Air Force, and a failure of supervision, which is why the judge found them negligent. They knew what should have been done. but failed to see that it was done, and done properly.

They may be predisposed to this failure due to the nature of the systems, but that does not excuse anything. They can, and have done it "right" quite often, so when they don't its a failure, and not a pardonable or forgivable mistake.

Just my opinion, worth what you paid for it. .
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Old July 11, 2021, 03:03 PM   #13
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Wouldn't it be nice if the lawyers all agreed on what was the correct response, but strangely, they don't.
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Old July 11, 2021, 09:08 PM   #14
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Wouldn't it be nice if the lawyers all agreed on what was the correct response, but strangely, they don't.
If all the lawyers agreed, at least half of them would be quickly out of work!
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Old July 13, 2021, 06:32 AM   #15
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I haven't read the decision, but based on what I've read so far: (1) yes, it can be appealed; and (2) my gut says it will be. I haven't done any Federal Tort Claims Act work, but I doubt the USAF wants any kind of precedent set that it is responsible for damages when there's a good intervening or superseding causation argument to be made. And it looks like the USAF already made that argument to this court.
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Old July 13, 2021, 09:11 AM   #16
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The USAF will have a tougher time than usual in avoiding systematic gross neglect of duty (as opposed to an aberrant one-off).

I would think (IMHO-only of course) it far better that they pay up and get it out of the news.
In Congress' current "...rewrite UCMJ..." mood for sex crimes, "we did it for the children" gun control
finger-pointing runs a close second in unwanted Woke Interference the longer it's newsworthy.

(and the new SECDEF seems to be rolling over at every turn to accommodate the latest trends on all fronts)
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Old July 13, 2021, 10:49 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spats McGee
I haven't done any Federal Tort Claims Act work, but I doubt the USAF wants any kind of precedent set that it is responsible for damages when there's a good intervening or superseding causation argument to be made.
It ultimately isn't good if we lose the concept of an intervening criminal act as a break in the causal chain that allows liability. If every firearm manufacturer is sued out of existence for crimes committed with their goods, there won't be any new firearms. For similar reasons, there would be no new cars and bunches of other items we would like to have manufactured for us.

We can admit that the USAF should have complied with existing law, but that doesn't change the fact that Sutherland Springs killer is the necessary cause of each of those deaths.
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Old July 13, 2021, 11:03 AM   #18
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So, did anyone tell the Judge that you can't sue the government?
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Old July 13, 2021, 11:14 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by thallub View Post
The USAF will pay up. There was a general failure by the US military to report felons and domestic abusers to NICS:



https://redstate.com/arbogast/2017/1...-system-n80354

After the massacre the US military reported 4,000 people with dishonorable discharges to NICS.

https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/12/us/gu...nvs/index.html
Then there was also a general failure of his wife and others who never reported his behavior to authorities. What percentage are they accountable for; why aren't they factored into the equation?
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Old July 13, 2021, 02:22 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by 101combatvet View Post
Then there was also a general failure of his wife and others who never reported his behavior to authorities. What percentage are they accountable for; why aren't they factored into the equation?
Lawyer's generally want to go after someone with $$$. Why spend time and money in court if you can't recover the costs of litigation?
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Old July 13, 2021, 02:50 PM   #21
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Then there was also a general failure of his wife and others who never reported his behavior to authorities. What percentage are they accountable for; why aren't they factored into the equation?
This is something often brought up, but its a slippery slope and while there are some situations where people may actually be at fault, there are others where they actually aren't but are FELT to be, and sometimes, that "feeling" gets them convicted. Particularly when when the "you knew, or should have known" argument is accepted by the jury.

The people who housed the OKC bomber before the bombing got 10year sentences from the GOVT because they didn't turn him in before he did anything. Their defense was that they simply never believed he was serious. The jury didn't buy it.

(I've heard) One of the mass murdering kids that killed at Columbine had a web page that was all sweetness nd light, brotherhood, and can't we all get along?....

the point here is that people talk trash all day long, and odd or weird behavior isn't a crime, until an actual crime is committed. Do we toss sports fans in jail for urging their team to "kill the other guys!"
No.

With the Virginia Tech shooting, the shooter was "evaluated" by mental health professionals (or at least one) and and they did not turn him in. Later reports said he was found to have problems but (at that time) they did not consider him a viable threat.

A while back, there was a guy in CA, who was "turned in" by his mom, and the cops did show up and talk to him. They found him sane and rational and not a threat. The NEXT DAY, that guy shot a few people, stabbed a few more and ran over a few with his car.

The point here is, that no matter how strange or how normal someone acts, NO ONE but they know what is in their heads, and I think blaming wife, family, friends, or even any shrink he talks to for not knowing (with certainty) what is inside the guys head is just ...wrong.

Suppose you own a gun (or a lot of guns) and something happens and you lose your job. That's life, and you pick up the pieces and move on, right?

OK, now suppose someone you used to work with calls the cops and tells them that you just lost your job and you have guns and so are a danger to the public....

Tough to pick up the pieces and move on when, thanks to a meddling idiot the cops have busted into your house, taken your property, possibly arrested you and now you're facing all kinds of crap and totally unwarranted expenses to defend yourself from the system, when you did nothing wrong and didn't plan to but someone THOUGHT you MIGHT....

(sure that's a worst case but it could happen)

Hindsight is always 20/20 and the only reasonable judgement on people's actions is in light of what they knew and believed at the time. Personally, I don't want trouble with the system because some wackjob thinks I'm a nut and he isn't, nor do I want people convicted of crimes they didn't commit because they didn't think and report someone who LATER turned out to do something evil.

One should NOT punish people for not being accurately clairvoyant. No matter how badly you want to find someone else to blame, no one but the guy who actually pulled the trigger is responsible. No one. Not the gun maker, or the store, or his 4th grade teacher or some yammerhead on UTube, no one but the shooter is actually the responsible party.

Looking for someone with deep pockets to blame, after the fact simply isn't honest, in my opinion.
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Old July 13, 2021, 04:57 PM   #22
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So, did anyone tell the Judge that you can't sue the government?
The decision states (and I have no reason to dispute it) that the FTCA waives sovereign immunity.
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Old July 13, 2021, 05:22 PM   #23
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Then there was also a general failure of his wife and others who never reported his behavior to authorities. What percentage are they accountable for; why aren't they factored into the equation?
Are you certain that she knew of his activities? How could she know that he was planning to kill her mother and family? They were no longer living together. Furthermore, even if she knew, did she have a statutory duty to inform the authorities?

The USAF, on the other hand, had a clear statutory duty to report his conviction for domestic battery and his dishonorable discharge to the NICS system, and the USAF has acknowledged that they failed to do so -- not only for this particular shooter, but also for numerous other cases. The USAF also acknowledged that they (as an organization) knew that they had a statutory duty, but they (as an organization) didn't have processes in place to ensure that they carried out that statutory duty.
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Old July 16, 2021, 12:21 PM   #24
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Are you certain that she knew of his activities? How could she know that he was planning to kill her mother and family? They were no longer living together. Furthermore, even if she knew, did she have a statutory duty to inform the authorities?

The USAF, on the other hand, had a clear statutory duty to report his conviction for domestic battery and his dishonorable discharge to the NICS system, and the USAF has acknowledged that they failed to do so -- not only for this particular shooter, but also for numerous other cases. The USAF also acknowledged that they (as an organization) knew that they had a statutory duty, but they (as an organization) didn't have processes in place to ensure that they carried out that statutory duty.
If she did, I'm sure she would deny it. The point is that this guy had a history of violent behavior, and it is likely that she knew his history and that he was purchasing firearms. matches + gasoline = a bad outcome

Here's another thought, did the church have an Emergency Operations Plan? If not, then maybe they also share some of the responsibility.
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Old July 16, 2021, 04:37 PM   #25
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If she did, I'm sure she would deny it. The point is that this guy had a history of violent behavior, and it is likely that she knew his history and that he was purchasing firearms.
Of course she knew his history. She was the second wife he abused. They were separated -- he was living in a barn on his parents' property. Please explain exactly how she was supposed to know what he was doing and what he was planning?

And whether or not the church had an emergency response plan, why should the church share any of the responsibility?
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