Oxford School District faces $100M lawsuit for 'destroying evidence' of deadly shooting
The Oxford School District is facing a $100 million lawsuit from a student who was injured, and her sister who was witness to the attack
Lawyers for a student, who was injured in the deadly Oxford school attack carried out by 15-year-old sophomore suspect Ethan Crumbley, have accused the district of destroying evidence pertinent to the case. Last month, four students were killed and several others injured after Crumbley opened fire at Oxford High School.
At present, the Oxford School District is facing a $100 million lawsuit from a student who was injured after a bullet hit her neck and her sister who was witness to the attack. Lawyers have claimed that the district has scrubbed the school website of administrators. “Not only did defendants fail to take necessary steps to preserve the evidence, but they willfully destructed the evidence by deleting the webpages and social media accounts,” attorney Nora Hanna wrote in Friday’s (December 10) filing, the Detroit Free Press reported. “Plaintiffs cannot continue to be blindsided by the defendants by having to search for what evidence is being destroyed or altered.”
The lawsuit, filed this week, accuses the school of failing to protect students from a “deranged” and “homicidal" student. The school has been ordered by US District Judge Terrence Berg to keep all evidence related to the case. However, disputing the accusation, Timothy J Mullins, an attorney for the Oxford school district, said, "It’s a lie … it’s disgusting. People think that the school district is withholding information? Everything that we have has been given to the prosecutor … everything they want we’ve given to them.”
School might face charges
Following the Oxford High School shooting, it is possible that the school officials “could face criminal charges”. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has said that “anything is possible” in regards to school officials facing charges in the aftermath of Ethan Crumbley killing four students and injuring many.
Meanwhile, after the school was slammed for not doing enough to protect the students despite prior warnings, it is now defending its handling of the suspect’s disturbing behavior. It has also promised an outside investigation into its actions. Oxford Community Schools Superintendent Tim Throne admitted in a letter released on Saturday, December 4, that school officials accepted Ethan Crumbley’s explanations into why he drew violent images and statements, and why he was looking at pictures of bullets on his phone. He was reportedly sent to class when his parents refused to take him home.
“Given the fact that the child had no prior disciplinary infractions, the decision was made [that] he would be returned to the classroom rather than sent home to an empty house,” Throne wrote. “These incidents remained at the guidance counselor level and were never elevated to the principal or assistant principal’s office.” The letter further said that the Crumbleys gave them no reason to believe that Ethan's behavior showed signs of danger. The school, however, recommended that the parents take him for counseling. On November 29, Ethan was found looking at bullet photos on his cellphone in class. He later explained to a counselor that shooting was a family hobby. The school reportedly tried to call Jennifer Crumbley to have a word with her on the matter, but she did not return the call. The parents, when called by the school later, claimed that they were all indeed gun enthusiasts.
A teacher had also reportedly seen “concerning drawings and written statements”, including the drawings of a handgun, of a person who had been shot, laughing emojis, a bullet, and the phrases: “the thoughts won’t stop. Help me,” “blood everywhere,” “my life is useless,” and “the world is dead.” "The student was immediately removed from the classroom and brought to the guidance counselor’s office where he claimed the drawing was part of a video game he was designing and informed counselors that he planned to pursue video game design as a career. The student’s parents were also called in,” Throne wrote. He added that “at no time did counselors believe the student might harm others based on his behavior, responses and demeanor, which appeared calm.” The school reportedly told the Crumbleys that they had 48 hours to get counseling for Ethan, otherwise Child Protective Services will be called. “When the parents were asked to take their son home for the day, they flatly refused and left without their son, apparently to return to work,” the letter said.
An unconfirmed screenshot that was circulated revealed a post by the school authorities on November 12, where they seem to have claimed that there were rumors about something bad happening in the school and that they have taken adequate protection. It is not clear what the rumors were. "We are aware of the numerous rumors that have been circulating throughout our building this week. Student interpretations of social posts and false information have exacerbated the overall concern. We want our parents and students to know there has been no threat to our building nor our students," the post reads, in parts. The school has been slammed for not doing its bit to protect the students despite so many prior warnings.