June 26, 2015
Victim Sues Rampage Killer’s Parents
By MATT REYNOLDS
LOS ANGELES (CN) – A UC Santa Barbara lifeguard injured in Elliot Rodger’s killing spree last year has sued his parents, the county and university, claiming they should have known Rodger was dangerous.
Rodger killed six UC Santa Barbara students and injured 14 others in a May 23, 2014 rampage in Isla Vista, near the college campus.
Rodger stabbed to death his two roommates and a friend in their apartment, then shot to death two women outside a sorority house and wounded a third. He drove to a delicatessen where he shot to death a male student. During the rampage, he drove through Isla Vista in a black BMW, wounding several people with gunshots and hitting four with his car. Then he killed himself. Keith Cheung was one of the victims Rodger ran over. He sued Rodger’s parents, the county, the sheriff and UCSB in Superior Court on June 23, claiming they knew the 22-year-old man was mentally ill but ignored several red flags, including disturbing videos he posted on YouTube.
Cheung was riding his bicycle home when Rodger plowed his BMW into him from behind. Cheung “flipped into the air and went through the windshield.” When Rodger crashed the BMW, Cheung was flung to the ground. As he lay there, seriously injured, he was handcuffed before being taken to the hospital, he says in the complaint.
He claims the defendants had “actual and/or constructive knowledge of Elliot Rodger’s dangerous propensities and desire to cause injury to himself and others, and failed to exercise due care to prevent and/or mitigate those known dangers.”
The 21-page lawsuit spends four pages rehearsing the obvious warning signs that Rodger was dangerous. He left behind a lengthy “manifesto” about the women who rejected him and the men who he presumed enjoyed their favors.
A month before the shooting, Rodger posted YouTube videos, including one called “Why do Girls Hate Me,” expressing his “jealousy and rage toward women, minorities, and people who are sexually active.” The videos “revealed Rodger to be an unstable, vengeful, jealous, and dangerous individual,” the lawsuit states.
A “manifesto” emailed to his parents, family and his therapist expressed Rodger’s loneliness, alienation and intent to commit violence, Cheung says.
He cites other incidents in the two years before the attack, including racist and misogynistic content Rodger posted on websites and YouTube.
The Santa Barbara County Mental Health Center contacted the defendants and requested a welfare check after seeing the videos Rodger posted in April, according to the complaint.
Cheung says the Sheriff’s Department, the county, and UCSB responded to the request for a welfare check but neither watched the videos nor checked for weapons at Rodger’s apartment. “Defendants had access to and information concerning speci?c and articulable facts which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrant his or her belief or suspicion that Rodger was a danger to himself and others,” the complaint states. In November 2012 Rodger bought a Glock 34 semiautomatic pistol. The following July he bought a Sig Sauer P226 pistol and ammunition. He used both guns during the rampage. In a similar, federal complaint in March, the parents of Rodger’s late roommates David Wang and James Hong and their friend George Chen sued Santa Barbara County and the apartment complex and manager. Cheung seeks damages for negligent entrustment, negligence, false imprisonment, and civil rights violations: being handcuffed after he was injured.
He is represented by Brian Kabateck with Kabateck LLP.
The Sheriff’s Department did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment Thursday.