Oakland, CA – The sister of a federal security officer who was fatally shot while protecting a federal courthouse during anti-police rioting in 2020 has sued Facebook for allegedly helping far-right extremists promote dangerous content while recruiting new members.
Angela Underwood Jacobs filed the wrongful death lawsuit in California state court on Jan. 6 and accused the tech giant of using its algorithms to encourage and enable those allegedly responsible for murdering her brother, 53-year-old Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Federal Protective Services Officer Dave Patrick Underwood.
The alleged killer, 32-year-old U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Steven Carrillo, has been charged with murder in the May 29, 2020 death of Officer Underwood.
Carrillo, an outspoken member of the boogaloo movement, has also been charged with murder in the separate fatal ambush of Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Sergeant Damon Gutzwiller.
Members of the boogaloo movement are anti-government extremists who want to engage in a civil war called the “boogaloo” in which they overthrow the U.S. government.
So-called “Boogaloo Bois” often wish to kill law enforcement officers for perceived acts of tyranny, or for acts which have not actually happened, but exist only in their imagination as part of a dystopian future which they believe the U.S. is headed toward.
Sgt. Gutzwiller, 38, was gunned down on June 6, 2020, while investigating a report of a suspicious vehicle filled with guns and explosives, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
In her lawsuit, Jacobs alleged Carrillo targeted, shot, and murdered Officer Underwood as he was standing outside the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building on Clay Street, the Daily Beast reported.
According to the criminal complaint, Carrillo met up with an accomplice he met through Facebook on a boogaloo page, according to ABC News.
Jacobs said the suspects never would have met if not for the online group.
She further alleged Facebook turned a blind eye to the foreseeable risk of violence and opted instead to maximize profits, ABC News reported.
“The shooting was not a random act of violence,” the lawsuit read, according to ABC News. “It was the culmination of an extremist plot hatched and planned on Facebook by two men who Meta [Facebook’s new company name] connected through Facebook’s groups infrastructure and its use of algorithms designed and intended to increase user engagement and, correspondingly, Meta’s profits.”
Jacobs said in a statement that Facebook “bears responsibility” for her brother’s murder.
“Facebook knowingly promoted inflammatory and violent content and connected extremists who plotted and carried out the killing of my brother,” she said. “Facebook must be held responsible for the harm it has caused not just my family, but so many others, by promoting extremist content and building extremist groups on its platform.”
Carrillo’s co-defendant, Robert Alvin Justus, has been charged with attempted murder and aiding and abetting for allegedly driving the van he and Carrillo are accused of using during the shooting of Officer Underwood, CNN reported.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Justus said he and Carrillo met over Facebook and exchanged messages about targeting law enforcement officers.
The lawsuit alleged Facebook’s algorithms recommended boogaloo-affiliated groups to Justus, leading him “down a road toward extremism,” CNN reported.
The suit claimed that several watchdog groups alerted Facebook about the boogaloo presence on its platform, but that Facebook “failed to take action to prevent followers of the boogaloo movement” from using its platform “to connect, organize, and plan the commission of acts of violence,” CNN reported.
The tech giant then “continued to recommend boogaloo-related groups through its ‘related pages’ and ‘suggested groups’ functions,” Jacobs’ lawsuit alleged.
She is seeking damages in excess of $25,000, CNN reported.
BREAKING:A Black law enforcement officer was murdered while providing security at the U.S. courthouse in Oakland during a protest.A rioter in a vehicle shot the officer.Officer Dave Underwood was 53.Pundits say this doesn’t match MSM’s narrative that’s why they are silent pic.twitter.com/hb9FnykGAV
— Apex World News (@apexworldnews) June 2, 2020
Jacobs’ attorney, Ted Leopold, alleged Facebook’s promotion of extremist content goes far beyond the murder of Officer Underwood, ABC News reported.
“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,” Leopold said.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress last year that the company’s “mission is to bring people together,” ABC News reported.
“We work hard to prevent abuse of our platform…and we stand firmly against hate and the incitement of violence,” Zuckerberg asserted. “We have industry-leading policies that prohibit such content on our platforms, and we invest billions of dollars and work tirelessly to improve and enforce these policies.”
Facebook announced in June of 2020 that it removed over 200 social media accounts affiliated with the “violent US-based anti-government network” that “uses the term boogaloo but is distinct from the broader and loosely-affiliated boogaloo movement,” ABC News reported.
The company said it “removed boogaloo content” anytime they found “a clear connection to violence or a credible threat to public safety.”
Jacob’s lawsuit alleged Carrillo made posts encouraging others to “go to the riots and support our own cause. Show them the real targets. Use their anger to fuel our fire. Think outside the box. We have mobs of angry people to use to our advantage,” ABC News reported.
He also asserted that the U.S. second civil war was “kicking off now and if it’s not kicking off in your hood then start it,” the lawsuit claimed.
Officer Underwood was protecting the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building on Clay Street on May 29, 2020, when a vehicle approached the intersection at approximately 9:45 p.m., The Mercury News reported.
A gunman inside the vehicle opened fire on the contract security officers, wounding Officer Underwood and a second officer as they were guarding the courthouse.
Officer Underwood was killed in the ambush, and his colleague was critically wounded, NBC News reported.
DHS officials described Officer Underwood’s murder as an assassination.
The killers sped off, leading to a massive eight-day manhunt.
At approximately 1:30 p.m. on June 6, 2020, Santa Cruz police received a call about a suspicious van in a turnout in Boulder Creek, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported.
The caller told authorities that he could see guns and bomb-making materials inside of the vehicle.
Deputies responded to the area and found firearms, ammunition, and bomb-making materials inside the abandoned white van, NBC News reported.
The vehicle was registered to Carrillo, according to police.
Carrillo allegedly ambushed officers with improvised explosive devices and gunfire when they arrived at his home, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported.
Sgt. Gutzwiller was fatally wounded in the attack.
The 14-year veteran-of-the-force left behind his pregnant wife and a young child, according to KRON.
We join our partners at the @SantaCruzSO1 in mourning the tragic death of Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller who killed in an apparent ambush style attack earlier today. Our thoughts are with his family and fellow deputies tonight. pic.twitter.com/U7VrpgRE29
— LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) June 7, 2020
A second deputy was critically injured, and a California Highway Patrol trooper suffered a gunshot wound to the hand, KSBW reported.
Despite having been shot in the hip, Carrillo managed to escape on foot and carjacked a vehicle before he was taken into custody, according to NBC News.
He was found in possession of an AR-15, which has since been connected to the shooting that left Officer Underwood dead and his fellow contract officer wounded.
Carrillo allegedly used his own blood to write “boog” and “I became unreasonable” on the hood of the carjacked vehicle before he was apprehended, NBC News reported.
Investigators said they found a ballistic vest with other “boogaloo” symbols on it when they searched Carrillo’s abandoned van.
Carrillo and Justus also made numerous social media posts referencing the boogaloo, according to investigators.
Carrillo faces a possible death penalty if he is convicted of the charges against him.
Carrillo was stationed at Travis Air Force Base in Solano County, and was an active-duty staff sergeant at the time of the alleged attacks, CNN reported.