Lawsuit Filed Against County of Santa Barbara, Sheriff’s Dept., & Capri Apartments for Isla Vista Shooting
Becker Law Group and McNicholas & McNicholas File Lawsuit Against County of Santa Barbara, Sheriff’s Department and Capri Apartments for Isla Vista Shooting
— Elliot Rodger’s killing spree near UCSB campus on May 23, 2014 left six students dead and 14 injured —
Santa Barbara, CA – The Los Angeles-based plaintiffs trial law firms of Becker Law Group and McNicholas & McNicholas, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Santa Barbara County, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department (SBCSD), Capri Apartments in Isla Vista, CA and Asset Campus Housing on behalf of the parents of the three young men, David Wang, James Hong and George Chen, who were murdered by Elliot Rodger in the Capri Apartments.
The suit against the SBCSD is brought for violations of the decedents federally protected constitutional rights pursuant to 28 USC 1983. The suit against the apartment is brought based upon inadequate screening and placement of Mr. Rodger in the decedent’s apartment unit.
The lawsuit alleges that the SBCSD increased the danger to the decedents who were in a place of safety when a welfare check was performed on April 30, 2014. At that time, Mr. Roger had a cache of weapons and ammunition in his room and commented in his diary that he was relieved the Deputies didn’t check his room because his plan would have been ruined. Prior to the welfare check, there were numerous red flags as well two prior police contacts. On the day of the welfare check, the Sheriff failed to, among other things, perform a gun background check or view the You Tube videos which prompted the welfare check. Additionally, the Sheriff never spoke with the decedents to advise them of the welfare check or to obtain information.
The lawsuit also alleges that Capri Apartments failed to perform a proper background check; conduct a reasonable investigation of Rodger before assigning him roommates; properly monitor its roommate pairings; and warn Rodger’s roommates of his unstable and violent propensities.
“Despite the defendant’s knowledge of Rodger’s bizarre and violent behavior, they negligently failed to conduct any background check, withheld their knowledge of Rodger’s sadistic behavior, and in doing so, allowed the community to fall prey to his vindictive attack,” said Todd Becker, Owner of Becker Law Group.
“With the devastating number of school shootings that have occurred in the recent past, the proper procedures should have been in place and followed. The decedents were placed in a position of increasing danger due to the Sheriff’s conduct at the welfare check. As a result, David, James and George lost their lives,” said Patrick McNicholas, Partner of McNicholas & McNicholas.
On June 4, 2011, Elliot Rodger moved into the Capri Apartments in Isla Vista, CA. Over a three-year period, he was assigned numerous different sets of roommates and transferred several times to other apartment units by Capri’s management. In all of his living situations, Mr. Rodger created hostile and violent environments for his roommates, including subjecting them to racial comments and jealous outbursts. Capri’s management never warned any of his roommates of his racist and violent history with previous roommates.
Beginning in 2012, Mr. Rodger began actively posting hateful, misogynistic, racist and disturbing content on various internet message boards, all of which were easily discoverable through a Google search of his name.
On or around July 20, 2013, while Mr. Rodger was living with another set of roommates, he attended a party where he attempted to push three girls off of a ledge for ignoring him. A group of male students intervened and pushed Mr. Rodger causing him to break his ankle. Upon returning to his home at Capri Apartments, Mr. Rodger told a neighbor, “I’m gonna kill all those mother***kers and kill myself.”
After the incident, the SBCSD interviewed other people at the party who said Mr. Rodger was the only aggressor and had targeted women. The police did not follow up and the matter was dropped.
In the fall of 2013, while Mr. Rodger was living with another set of roommates, he hid his roommates’ pots and pans because he did not like the smell of their cooking. In response, one of the roommates took Rodger’s candles and candle holders. Mr. Rodger called the police and instead of investigating the incident, the officers arrested Rodger’s roommate.
On April 30, 2014, the Sheriff’s Department was notified by a mental health worker of Mr. Rodger’s disturbing online content. The Sheriff was expected to conduct a search of Mr. Rodger’s apartment, but failed to do so. By this point, Mr. Rodger had purchased and hidden several weapons and ammunition in his room.
As Mr. Rodger put in his manifesto, “if they had demanded to search my room… That would have ended everything. For a few horrible seconds I thought it was all over. When they left, the biggest wave of relief swept over me… This incident made me realize that I needed to be extra careful. I can’t let anyone become suspicious of me…”
On May 23, 2014, Mr. Rodger emailed his family and therapist the manifesto he had composed, and uploaded a video to YouTube titled “Elliot Rodger’s Retribution,” outlining his motive and plan of attack. After the email was sent and the video was posted, Rodger stabbed and killed his two roommates and their friend, and then sought to attack a nearby sorority house. After failing to gain entrance, he opened fire on the busy college town of Isla Vista where he ended the lives of three more students.