Family of slain federal officer files wrongful death lawsuit against Facebook

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Sister of slain federal officer files wrongful death lawsuit against Facebook
A memorial to Dave Patrick Underwood drew hundreds of people to Pinole Valley High School on Friday, June 19, 2020. (Photo credit: Kathy Chouteau)

The family of slain Federal Protective Service Officer Dave Patrick Underwood, who was a well regarded resident of Pinole, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Facebook (now known as Meta), claiming the social media giant “promoted inflammatory and violent content” that resulted in an extremist murdering Underwood in May 2020.

“Facebook bears responsibility for the murder of my brother,” Angela Underwood Jacobs, sister of the slain federal officers, said in a statement. “Facebook knowingly promoted inflammatory and violent content and connected extremists who plotted and carried out the killing of my brother. Facebook must be held responsible for the harm it has caused not just my family, but so many others through its promotion of extremist content and by promoting algorithms to actively recruit members to its web platform.”

Jacobs’ attorney Ted Leopold added, “We believe and intend to show that Facebook’s conduct has led to a rise in extremism throughout the world and acts of real-world violence, including the murder of Officer Underwood.”

According to ABC News, Meta says the claims “are without legal basis” and that the company has actively removed boogaloo-related content “when there is a clear connection to violence or a credible threat to public safety.”

Dave Patrick Underwood was laid to rest at Rolling Hills Memorial Park in Richmond after hundreds of people attended a memorial at Pinole Valley High School on Friday, June 19, 2020. (Photo credit: Antwon Cloird)

Underwood was killed and his colleague wounded in an ambush shooting while they were protecting the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building in Oakland amid a protest over the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. The two men arrested in connection with Underwood’s case include suspected shooter and active-duty U.S. Air Force Sergeant Steven Carrillo, and suspected driver and accomplice Robert Justice.

Following their arrests, the FBI cited evidence suggesting the men may have been followers of a far-right, extremist Boogaloo Movement that is preparing for a violent uprising or second Civil War. The federal complaint states Carillo carried a ballistic vest with a patch that featured an igloo and a Hawaiian-style print that are both associated with the Boogaloo Movement. FBI official John Bennett said the men planned their attack to coincide with the demonstration in order to “kill cops.”

“We’ve banned more than 1,000 militarized social movements from our platform and work closely with experts to address the broader issue of internet radicalization,” said Meta spokesman Kevin McAlister, according to ABC News. Read the full story here.

One month after his death, hundreds of community members gathered to pay their respects to Underwood at service at Pinole Valley High School’s theater and a burial at Rolling Hills Memorial Park in Richmond. Remembered as a genuine and kind soul who was dedicated to his family, his job, and his community, Underwood’s legacy lives on, as the recently renovated basketball courts at Fernandez Park in Pinole were named in his honor.

Basketball court dedicated to David Patrick Underwood opens to public
The newly painted basketball court dedicated to Federal Security Officer Dave Patrick Underwood. (Photos courtesy of City of Pinole)