Amina Kocer-Bowman was critically wounded in a 2012 school shooting in Bremerton, Washington. Her family settled a civil suit today against the Bremerton School District and other defendants who played a part in events that led to the shooting for $1.2 million dollars, according to the Kitsap Sun.
Third-grader Amina Kocer-Bowman was just 9 years old when she was shot by a classmate by a gun he’d brought to school in his backpack. The Huffington Post reported that after the shooting, she “spent about six weeks in the hospital, required numerous surgeries and suffered critical, lifelong injuries when the bullet pierced her internal organs and lodged in her spine on Feb. 22.” Police initially reported that the gun went off when Amina’s 9-year-old classmate put the backpack down on top of his desk, but the family said the boy told investigators that he had reached into the backpack and had his hand on the gun when it went off and a bullet struck her.
Prior to the incident, the students’ 3rd grade teacher had been concerned about the boy’s behavior. He had a history of bullying other classmates and was “unhappy with his teacher after he was moved into a lower, remedial reading class. And about one week before the shooting, he was suspended for fighting on the playground, and he began telling other students that he was going to bring a gun to school – information that apparently was never relayed to teachers or administrators,” according to the Huffington Post.
The boy later told police that he brought the gun to protect himself against bullies and was able to get his hands on the weapon because he lived in the same building with both his mother and father, who had been declared unfit to care for him, as well as his uncle, who had legal custody of him at the time. His mother’s boyfriend, Douglas Bauer, often left weapons lying freely around the house, and no precautions were taken to keep the child from playing with them.
The Bremerton School District will pay the Bowman family $900,000 and the owner of the gun involved in the incident, Doug Bauer, will pay $300,000.
Amina is doing better, according to her family, but she will never be the same. “She’s partially recovered,” her father John Bowman told the media. “Something like this, she’ll never fully recover from. She lost something she’ll never get back, and that’s her innocence, her trust in school being a safe place. … This shouldn’t have happened. A school should be the safest place other than a child’s home, and unfortunately it’s not.”
After attorney’s fees and other legal and outstanding medical costs, Amina and her family will receive just more than $532,000, according to documents filed Friday in Kitsap County Superior Court. The bulk of the money will go to a trust to cover Amina’s long-term medical and psychological care and for her special education needs as a result of the shooting, said Jeff Campiche, the family’s attorney.
The family has moved to a small community near Billings, Mont., where John Bowman, a Navy veteran, has taken a new job. Amina is now 11 years old and will enter sixth grade this fall, where she can get a “fresh start” her father told reporters.
Campiche said the purpose of the suit, other than providing for Amina’s future, was to draw attention to school safety. The boy was in crisis and lacked adequate support from school staff, he said. The money will be used to provide for her educational needs, which may include vocational training for a career that will accommodate her physical limitations. Due to the damage the bullet inflicted, pregnancy will not be an option, Campiche said, and it is likely she would need to adopt should she want to become a parent.
The attorney for the family said that they filed the suit to hold the adults in the case responsible for the incident. “This is about two children the school failed,” Campiche said. “The family doesn’t want him punished,” he explained about the boy who shot Amina.