SAN DIEGO –- A wrongful-death lawsuit filed against the FBI by the sister of a man who abducted a San Diego teenager in 2013 after killing her mother and brother can move forward, a judge ruled Friday.
The lawsuit argues that FBI SWAT officers did not need to kill James Lee DiMaggio when they found him in an Idaho wilderness area with Hannah Anderson.
"It looked like it was really a hit squad and not a rescue squad," said C. Keith Greer, Attorney for Lora DiMaggio Robinson, sister of James DiMaggio. "There was lots of opportunity for the FBI to say 'hey freeze FBI'."
Greer told Fox 5, in drone video he's viewed DiMaggio never posed any threat.
"It showed Jim walking all over the campsite 30,40,50 yards away from Hannah and from where the rifle was," said Greer.
Agents had tracked DiMaggio and the El Capitan High School student to the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area, and on August 10, 2013, they located the two. As they moved in, an FBI tactical agent shot and killed DiMaggio. He was shot six times: once in the head, once in the heart and four times in the arms and upper torso.
Hannah, who was 16 years old at the time, had disappeared a week earlier. The day after she went missing, DiMaggio's house in rural southeastern San Diego County burned down. Firefighters found the bodies of Hanna's mother, 44-year-old Christina Anderson, and her 8-year-old brother, Ethan, in the ruins of the house and garage. Investigators determined that the fire was started by a time-delay device.
The FBI said agents shot DiMaggio because they believed he was shooting toward them. DiMaggio's sister, Lora, disputes that and filed the lawsuit in 2015. The lawsuit claims that the FBI agent shot DiMaggio after he fired two shot into the air, and that he was never a threat to agents. Her attorney, Keith Greer, wants the FBI to turn over video of the shooting. Greer said Friday's ruling means DiMaggio's family may finally get to see that video.
"Audio tape, video tape, body cameras that each of the team members wear, we’re going to get access to that stuff they’re going to have to give it to us," said Greer. "If the FBI has you know film of Jim taking that first shot in the air to start the SOS and then drawing down on one of the agents he saw and point his gun at one of agents and he got shot -- end of story, end of story. Just show us and we close this thing."
Greer said Lora believes her brother was protecting Hannah. She wants to sue the FBI for $20 million, but Greer said it's not about the money.
"We want answers and the way this system is this is the way we have to go to get answers," said Greer.
Jennifer Willis, Hannah Anderson's aunt, told FOX 5 that Hannah was in fear for her life while she was with DiMaggio and she was lucky that the SWAT team killed him and rescued her. Willis called the DiMaggio lawsuit frivolous and accused Lora DiMaggio of filing it for the money.