If you’ll remember, the man who shot up the Henry Pratt Company in Aurora, Illinois was issued an Illinois Firearms Owner ID Card despite having a felony record. He then used the FOID card to purchase the gun he used to murder five people. Five police officers were injured in the a shoot-out before the shooter was killed.
Now a Pratt employee who was injured in the shooting has sued the Illinois State Police, the agency that issued the FOID card.
While individual police officers are generally covered by sovereign immunity, it is possible to sue state agencies such as the Illinois State Police. According to nolo.com:
In Illinois, an injured person can bring a claim against the state if he or she is injured by a state employee or agency, as long as the same claim would be available if it were brought against a private individual or company.
What does this mean? For example:
- A person hit by a car driven by a government employee may file a claim under the Court of Claims Act, just as a private individual could bring a car accident lawsuit against another driver.
- Premises liability claims may be filed if a dangerous condition on government property causes injuries and those in charge of the property were on proper notice of the problem.
- Claims for medical negligence may be filed against workers at state hospitals, clinics, and similar facilities.
- Many other claims that arise from negligence, or the failure to use reasonable care when exercising a duty toward another, can also be filed against the state of Illinois under the Court of Claims Act.
Here’s the AP’s story on the lawsuit:
CHICAGO (AP) — One of the people injured in a deadly warehouse shooting last month sued Illinois State Police on Friday, saying authorities wrongly let the gunman purchase the weapon used in the attack.
Henry Pratt Co. employee Timothy Williams is seeking $2 million, claiming pain, suffering, disability and lost earnings. According to the lawsuit, he was shot three times after colleague Gary Martin opened fire, killing five other co-workers. Williams still has two bullets lodged in his back.
“Mr. Martin would have never possessed the firearm he used at the Henry Pratt Company mass shooting had the Illinois State Police properly followed and implemented their internal protocols intended to keep firearms out of the hands of citizens who meet certain criteria deemed by the legislature in the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act to be unfit for ownership of a firearm,” the lawsuit states.
Martin was killed in shootout with police. His state gun license permit was revoked in 2014, but authorities say he never gave up the handgun he used in the Feb. 15 shooting. The Chicago Tribune reports that Illinois State Police declined comment, saying they don’t discuss pending litigation.
State police officials have released records showing weaknesses in state law and federal databases that are used to screen firearm purchases. Among the records, state police said more than 75 percent of the people who received gun license revocations last year in Illinois ignored the notices.
In Martin’s case, state police said an “exhaustive search” failed to find Martin’s returned Firearm Owners Identification Card or a document detailing how to relinquish the gun.
Since the shooting, state police officials announced several reforms designed to make it harder for people to keep guns after losing their right to own a firearm.