Air Force could face lawsuits over Sutherland Springs shootings

| November 13, 2017 | 28 Comments

Stars & Stripes reports that Air Force authorities are preparing for an avalanche of law suits that may be coming their way because of their gross negligence in regards to entering the criminal conviction of Devin Kelley into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) enabling his lawful purchase of a scary black gun which he used to kill more than a score of churchgoers in Sutherland Springs, Texas, injuring scores more.

Well, actually, it’s the US taxpayer who will be on the hook for any lawsuits, it’s too bad folks in the Air Force who are responsible for the oversight will get off scot-free.

“I think it’s almost inevitable that the Air Force will be sued,” said retired Lt. Gen. Richard Harding, former judge advocate general of the service. “And I think there’s a case that can be made, you bet.”

If lawsuits against the Air Force were successful, said Don Christensen, the service’s former top prosecutor, the damages could be huge.

“What is being shot while you’re in church, watching your baby be killed — what’s it worth?” Christensen said. “I don’t see how it’s not the biggest financial payout in the history of the Air Force.”

U.S. laws rarely provide for victims of gun violence to seek compensation in civil lawsuits, and the doctrine of sovereign immunity prevents many lawsuits against the government. But this case is exceptional, experts said.

Stars & Stripes continues to make the case for the plaintiffs;

[R]eporting the case to the FBI database was not discretionary. “It was required by law,” Christensen said.

Plaintiffs in FTCA cases must also show that the harm caused by the negligence was foreseeable.

”I think it’s clearly foreseeable Kelley would commit an act of violence. The threats he’s made against his wife and his commanders — they knew that,” Christensen said.

OSI also was aware of allegations that Kelley had pointed a gun at his wife and had access to weapons, even though that charge had been dropped as part of a plea agreement.

Harding said that Air Force officials for at least a decade had been talking seriously about the importance of entering domestic violence convictions into the FBI database and that it wasn’t clear why that hadn’t been done.

I can answer that – the Air Force doesn’t care. They act like they care, but they really don’t. They’ll go through the motions and they’ll make up training to look like they care, but actually, it’s just one more thing to pencil whip quarterly. Now they’ve been caught, so it’s time to act like they care again.

It’s not just the Air Force, according to the article, only one case of domestic abuse has been reported from the Department of Defense to the FBI, compared to the 11,000 dishonorable discharges that were reported.

I’m pretty sure that the Air Force will settle with any plaintiffs, because discovery will be brutal, more brutal than a trial.

Category: Air Force

Comments (28)

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  1. luddite4change says:

    “I think it’s almost inevitable that the Air Force will be sued,” said retired Lt. Gen. Richard Harding, former judge advocate general of the service. “And I think there’s a case that can be made, you bet.”

    Umm. As the JAG of the USAF, wasn’t it also partly your (and your predecessors) responsibility to ensure that these actions were accomplished?

    This isn’t just a one off, its systemic across DOD that these eligible crimes have not been entered into the NICS?

    I know that the taxpayer will be on the hook, but I’d like some responsibility to be shared with those whose mission it was to ensure that the law of the land as enacted by Congress was carried out.

  2. Graybeard says:

    Those responsible (I presume the JAGs and their commanders) in all branches should be busted back to their lowest rate, lose all retirement, and receive a Other Than Honorable Discharge.

    JAGs have no excuse. They know the law, and are responsible for following the law. Failure to do so is dereliction of duty, IMHO.

    But realistically, the rattlesnake will not bite the lawyer out of professional courtesy.

    • A Proud Infidel®™ says:

      I concur, those who were negligent NEED to be held accountable but I might as well wish that the Moon was made of Swiss Cheese, it won’t happen. May Karma pay those who are responsible back tenfold!

      • Fyrfighter says:

        Seems a charge of deriliction of duty, failure to carry out a lawful order, and probably a couple others against those who didn’t enter info into NCIS, and those who supervise them would be slam dunks… but then again, life in prison for bergdahl was a slam dunk too, and look how that turned out…8 years of the community organizer sure wreaked havoc on the military, and it’s showing in spades!

      • desert says:

        Let’s remember, this was in TEXAS! They are not afraid of concealed carry, why wasn’t SOMEONE sitting in one of the back pews carrying? They could have nailed that demon first!

    • Club Manager says:

      Actually Graybeard, I read or heard on TV it was OSI’s responsibility to ensure the data was entered into the NCIS system. It will come back on a GS-5 clerk because some hotshot agent didn’t do due diligence. OSI, CID – they can all kiss my ass and my only regret is not screwing the CID agents wife when I had the chance in Germany.

  3. Atkron says:

    You can bet your ass all the services are getting records reported most riki-tik.

  4. Instinct says:

    Can we just give the job of the Air Force back to the Army now?

  5. Andy11M says:

    Some admin puke failed to do their job. Shocking.

  6. The Other Whitey says:

    If it were me, I’d be demanding heads, not money. Every asshole who had any responsibility for the reporting that should have happened should be charged with negligent homicide at the very least. Not that it’s likely to happen, but still…

  7. Sparks says:

    The next sound we will hear is from the left gun grabbers calling for ALL veterans to be denied purchasing any weapon because the DoD system is so flawed. Don’t think their pointy little heads aren’t thinking this already.

  8. Mason says:

    One domestic violence conviction has been reported by DOD? That can’t possibly be right.

    Sounds to me like some serious failures top-down and bottom-up.

  9. Justin says:


    Im curious where the 1 case of DA reported to the FBI stat. Came from? When I was an infantry commander I filled out the paperwork for submittal on all 6 cases I had in my unit. If it doesn’t go higher than Div S1 (at least in the army) this could be a much more serious issue than even this article makes it out to be.

  10. Thunderstixx says:

    Like I said the other day, the best we can hope for is that these deeds follow the offender’s lazy asses across the bridge to the next stop in the cycle we call life and they are tortured for a few hundred centuries by the souls of the people that died from the Sutherland Springs Massacre and whatever other ones came from their lack of initiative to do their fucking jobs…
    From judge to the lowest clerk, they all deserve to hear the cries of the ones they ignored for their own selfish purposes…
    This is a prime example of sloth being one of the seven deadly sins…
    A sin of omission is a sin nonetheless…

  11. Duane says:

    Some poor admin level individual is going to catch holy hell for this, and in reality, the true responsibility lays on the Commander and the JAG levels to report it. The system is FUBAR for stuff like this – I know, I was a Unit Security Manager for 7 years. I saw stuff that should have never, ever gotten to my level, but the Commander said ignore it and let them deal with it. I think we can see the results of that mentality with what transpired here! The whole DOD reporting system is a mess beyond normal comprehension – kind of like everything else at the moment.

  12. W2 says:

    PPT BS training for all my friends. Thanks dickweeds in the USAF. BTW, some asshole who had been here two days, recently woke up with Ojisan and Obasan standing over him in their LDK calling the JPS so thanks to that asshole too. I need more “don’t kill the locals or break into their houses” PPT training – NOT!

  13. Sonny's Mom says:

    Or maybe they had contractors aka “temps” handling the paperwork. Damn.

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