Imperial Valley Press

Judge: Oxford Schools, staff immune from shooting lawsuits


PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan judge has ruled that staff and administra­tors at Oxford High School cannot be sued for a mass shooting that left four students dead and seven others wounded.

Oakland County Circuit Judge Mary Ellen Brennan also dismissed Oxford Community Schools from civil lawsuits related to the shooting, stating that the district and staff are protected by government­al immunity.

Authoritie­s have accused Ethan Crumbley, 16, of using a semi- automatic handgun to open fire Nov. 30, 2021 on other teenagers in the hallway at the school roughly 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Detroit. The four students who were killed were 16- year- old Tate Myre, 14-year-old Hana St. Juliana, 17-year-old Madisyn Baldwin and 17-year-old Justin Shilling.

Crumbley, who was 15 at the time of the shooting, pleaded guilty in October to terrorism and first-degree murder charges. Prosecutor­s have said they’ll seek a life sentence with no chance for parole.

School officials have been criticized by the county sheriff and Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald for not alerting a school resource officer about their concerns with Crumbley and not searching the teen’s backpack before allowing him to return to class about three hours before the shooting.

The day before the

shooting, a teacher saw Crumbley looking at ammunition on his phone while in class. School officials left a voicemail informing his mother about it. On the morning of the shooting, Crumbley’s parents were summoned to the school and confronted with his drawings, which included a handgun and the words: “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.”

Authoritie­s said his parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, refused to take him home after the 13- minute meeting and were told to get him counseling.

A lawyer representi­ng some families of the victims who filed the lawsuit has said some teachers and a counselor at the high school were aware of Crumbley’s troubling interest in guns and violence months before the mass shooting.

But Brennan placed the responsibi­lity on Crumbley, writing in Friday’s order that “the court concludes that Ethan Crumbley’s act of firing the gun, rather than the alleged conduct of the individual Oxford defendants, was ‘ the one most immediate, efficient, and direct cause of the injury or damage.’”

Detroit-based attorney Ven Johnson said he plans to appeal Brennan’s ruling to the Michigan Court of Appeals.

“On behalf of our Oxford clients, we are deeply saddened and disappoint­ed by Judge Brennan’s dismissal today of all the Oxford

Community Schools defendants,” Johnson said. “We maintain that government­al immunity is wrong and unconstitu­tional, and the law should be changed immediatel­y.”

A group of Oxford parents and students who filed a federal lawsuit seeking a court-ordered safety plan for schools in the district says “some schools will hide behind government­al immunity to protect themselves instead of our students and children.”

“As long as government­al immunity completely shields schools like Oxford, it will only serve to deny families transparen­cy, justice, and accountabi­lity,” Change 4 Oxford said in a statement. “Without real change, our schools’ incentive to truly improve safety policies will remain limited due to their ability to hide behind immunity when future tragedies occur.”

Brennan’s ruling doesn’t apply to Ethan Crumbley and his parents, who also are named in the civil lawsuit

cDonald, the prosecutor, also charged James and Jennifer Crumbley with involuntar­y manslaught­er, accusing them of failing to keep the gun used in the shooting secure at home and failing to reasonably care for their son when he showed signs of mental distress.

Michigan’s Supreme Court ordered the state appeals court to hear an appeal from the couple who face trial.

 ?? CLARENCE TABB JR./DETROIT NEWS VIA AP ?? Ethan Crumbley answers “yes” to charges against him from assistant prosecutor during his pre-trial hearing at Oakland County Courthouse, in 2022 in Pontiac, Mich.
CLARENCE TABB JR./DETROIT NEWS VIA AP Ethan Crumbley answers “yes” to charges against him from assistant prosecutor during his pre-trial hearing at Oakland County Courthouse, in 2022 in Pontiac, Mich.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States