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The Navy Yard Shooting

Compensation for Injuries & Wrongful Death

If you suffered an injury or the loss of a loved one in the recent mass shooting in Washington, DC, you may be able to recover financial compensation by filing a personal injury or wrongful death claim. We can help you seek money for funeral expenses, hospitalization costs, medical expenses, ongoing medical complications, and noneconomic damages like pain and suffering.

Sadly, the Washington Navy Yard shoot may have been preventable. In fact, news sources now speculate that multiple agencies failed to identify warning signs that indicated the perpetrator's mental illness and predisposition to acts of violence. According to The Washington Post, the murders were the result of many "lost opportunities" missed by a variety of agencies.

Beginning in 2004, law enforcement, VA hospitals, and government agencies failed to identify the former Navy reservist's disturbing criminal behavior. These agencies, said The Post, were unable to recognize patterns of behavior that pointed toward the shooting. In fact, some of these warning signs started nearly a decade ago and continued until days before the actual murders.

A Pattern of Negligence:

  • In 2004, the man suffered an alleged "anger blackout" and opened fire into the tires of a vehicle with a .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun. After his arrest, paperwork related to the incident was lost and he was never charged with the offense.
  • In 2007, the man applied for secret-level security access. During the application process, the man's previous offense was only noted as an act of "malicious mischief." The shooting from 2004 was not grounds to deny the man security clearance.
  • In 2008, the man received secret-level clearance. Later that year, he was arrested for disorderly conduct after damaging furnishings in a nightclub. He paid $300 for a bond, which was later turned into a fine. The government did not revisit his secret-level access.
  • In 2010, the man fired a shot from his home into a neighboring apartment and was arrested. He claimed that the shot was an accident, but had previously complained that the neighbors were too noisy. He did not face any charges.
  • In 2011, the man punched an acquaintance in the face. Although his commander complained about the man's erratic behavior, he was honorably discharged from the Navy. At this time, he applied for disability benefits but was not required to undergo a psychological exam.
  • In 2012, the perpetrator was hired by the Experts, who conducted a background check. The check confirmed his secret-level security clearance but failed to reveal his past arrests and encounters with law enforcement.
  • In 2013 (June), the Experts ran an additional background check, which again failed to reveal his past arrests. In July, the wife of the man's friend filed a police report and accused the man of putting sugar in her car's gas tank.
  • One month later (August), the man called police and claimed that "microwave machines" were speaking to him. Police submitted his name to a national crime database, which did not reveal any of his previous run-ins with the law. Law enforcement filed a report with the Navy, but the information never reached the Navy's security clearance database. A short time later, the Experts called the man's mother and local police because they were concerned about his behavior. He was sent home from work for only three days.
  • In late August, 2013, the man received a prescription for insomnia. A week later, he asked his doctor for a refill. The hospital asked him if he wanted to harm himself or other people but did not pursue a full mental health assessment.
  • On September 14th, 2013, (two days before the shooting), the man purchased a gun. Although the transaction required a background check, the check did not reveal any of his prior legal encounters.

Who can be held liable?

The facts surrounding this case reveal a large number of potential mistakes made by government and third-party agencies. For example, the IT consulting company failed to notify authorities of the man's unstable mental condition and allowed him to continue working after the man admitted that he heard "voices" in microwaves. This is arguably an act of negligent supervision and retention.

Similarly, the Department of Defense allowed the man to keep his security access for nine years during which he exhibited a consistent pattern of mental instability. Liability could rest in the hands of veterans' hospitals and their staff as well; these institutions failed to identify the man's mental illness when they should have conducted an in-depth exam to investigate his mental health.

The third-party companies who handled the man's background checks could also be held partially responsible for the Navy Yard injuries and deaths. If these companies had identified the prior incidents of erratic behavior, Aaron Alexis may not have retained security access to the Washington Navy Yard. Finally, the Navy Yard, or private security contractors could be held responsible for negligent security and monitoring.

Contact Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata, & Siegel, P.C.

An attorney from our firm can help you recover financial compensation for your injuries or the loss of your loved one. We have served clients for 45 years; let us put this experience to work for your case. Call our office or contact us online today. Our team can provide the legal guidance that you need.

For more information about the Washington Navy Yard shooting, visit our blog.

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