Local Fallen Marine's Family Reacts to Ruling Against Protesting Church
RICHLAND, Wash.- A jury has awarded nearly $11 million to the family of a fallen soldier angered by the controversial Westboro Baptist Church's protest at his memorial.
The family of fallen Marine Travis Pfister went through the same thing in Pasco earlier this year and say they hope this lawsuit will stop the church from ruining these already emotional ceremonies.
It was this past March when protestors from the Kansas based Westboro Baptist Church gathered at the Pasco memorial for fallen Marine Sergeant Travis Pfister.
Now, in a landmark decision, a federal court has ordered the Church to pay $10.9 million to the family of another fallen Marine for grief caused by a protest at his memorial, a decision the Pfister family calls courageous.
"I was happy. Not in a revengeful way at all but I was, I was happy to see that they might be slowed down, or possibly stopped," said Jackie Pfister, Travis's stepmother.
The landmark ruling means the group will pay $2.9 million dollars in damages, on top of another $8 million for punitive damages and emotional distress, almost $11 million total.
The group's leader Fred Phelps says they protest for attention, of which the verdict will give him more.
"We got more, we're getting more -- got more and getting more appropriate kind of news coverage than anything we've ever done," Phelps said.
The group has also protested at soldier funerals in Yakima.
Meanwhile, the family of fallen Marine Travis Pfister is putting the hatred behind them, choosing instead to focus on the Sergeant's life and the freedom of speech he fought for.
"Although we all have something to say, I think it's also as important to choose the proper place and time to say it. And, maybe that's not the case here," said his father Richard.
The Church protests claiming American soldiers are dying because of the nation's acceptance of homosexuality.
The lawsuit is expected to bankrupt the church, which may stop them from protesting in the future.