Judge approves $9 million in settlements for UVA shooting victims' families, but families demand more information

Judge approves $9 million in settlements for UVA shooting victims' families, but families demand more information

A judge approved $2 million in settlements for each of the families of three students slain in the shooting, joining agreements totaling $3 million to two other students who were injured.

The University of Virginia and the state will pay $9 million in settlements after a deadly 2022 shooting on campus, as the families of victims continue to call on the university to release findings of an investigation into the incident.

On Friday, Albemarle County Circuit Judge Claude V. Worrell II approved $2 million settlements for each of the families of slain students D’Sean Perry, Lavel Davis Jr. and Devin Chandler — the amounts are the maximum allowed under the state’s risk management plan.

During the brief hearing, relatives of the slain athletes sat with their lawyers. Simone Davis, the mother of Davis, sobbed several times and dabbed at her eyes with a tissue.

The settlements approved by the judge join two others totaling $3 million to Michael Hollins Jr. and Marlee Morgan, two other U-Va. students who were injured in the shooting, according to an attorney. Those agreements did not need court approval.

The agreements were negotiated under mediation in November. No lawsuit was filed, the university said.

“This settlement today is only one small step for these families. There is much to be done,” said Kimberly Wald, an attorney representing the estate of Perry, as well as Hollins and Morgan. “U-Va. needs to be the leader in changing reforms, so that history does not repeat itself.”

U-Va. President James E. Ryan and the university’s rector Robert Hardie said in a statement after the wrongful death settlements were approved that the families of Chandler, Davis and Perry — “whose lives were tragically cut short — have been ever present in our minds.”

“We will forever remember the impact that Devin, Lavel, and D’Sean had on our community, and we are grateful for the moments they spent in our presence uplifting UVA through their time in the classroom and on the football field,” Ryan and Hardie said.

But the families said Friday that the settlements were just a first step, and their priority is learning more about how a gunman opened fire on a bus of students arriving back to the Charlottesville campus from a class trip to see play about Emmett Till.

Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., who had also joined the class trip, was later arrested in the shooting. He has been charged with murder, and a jury trial is scheduled for January.

The families want the university to release the results of an investigation it requested from the state into the shooting. Virginia Attorney General Jason S. Miyares (R) and U-Va. officials had announced in October that the review was complete, but Miyares’s office said it could not release the report because of “attorney-client ethical rules.”

A spokeswoman for Miyares said he would have no comment and referred questions to the university.

U-Va. leaders initially pledged to release the findings after a review, but later announced that they would delay doing so until after criminal proceedings had been completed.

On Friday, Wald said that “not a single page from that report has been released.”

“The contents of that report are a matter of national security if there is one lesson, even one lesson that we can learn from that report,” Wald said. “We need to know it now. Not tomorrow, not next week. Not next year. We need to know it now.”

U-Va. had been aware of Jones before the shooting. A student had reported in September 2022 that Jones said he had a gun, and a threat-assessment team at the university had begun looking into him. That team learned that Jones had been convicted of a misdemeanor concealed-weapon violation the previous year. Jones declined to cooperate with university officials’ inquiries, and in late October 2022 they informed him he faced disciplinary action.

The shooting took place just weeks later.

Happy Perry, D’Sean Perry’s mother, has said she was eager to see the report. “Just like any other mother I want to know what happened to my child,” she said. “Without having that ‘why,’ I’m unable to heal — I’m unable to move forward.”

In a virtual news conference Friday, Happy Perry said she would keep fighting for reforms. That starts, she said, with getting the report.

“If we can save one life with that report, then we’ve done our due diligence,” she said.

“It is time for U-Va. and the Commonwealth to release the report,” Elliott Buckner, speaking on behalf of attorneys for the families, said outside Friday’s court hearing. “If they really want to do something that will benefit the families they will release that report to the families.”

The latest: The University of Virginia and the state will pay $6 million to the families of the three students killed in a 2022 shooting on campus. Last year, the university delayed the release of a report on the fatal UVA shooting.

What do we know about the shooting? A witness revealed new details about the U-Va. shooting, where a gunman opened fire on bus full of students, authorities confirmed. Additionally, the University of Virginia failed to report the suspected shooter to a student-run judiciary committee.

Who are the shooting victims? Officials identified the deceased victims as U-Va. football players Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis, and D’Sean Perry.

Who is accused of the UVA shooting? 23-year-old student Christopher Darnell Jones Jr. is the accused gunman in the U-Va. mass shooting. What was U-Va. shooting suspect’s motive? In an initial court appearance, a prosecutor claimed that Jones fired at a sleeping football player.

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