A biographer of former President Ronald Reagan and the Reagan presidential library criticized a federal judge’s decision Wednesday to grant full-time release to John Hinckley Jr., the man who shot Reagan in 1981.
Biographer Craig Shirley blasted U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman, an appointee of President Bill Clinton, for issuing “a purely political decision.”
The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute also took issue with the judge’s decision.
“John Hinckley is responsible for the shooting of President Reagan and three other brave men,” the foundation said. “One died two years ago from the wounds he received. Contrary to the judge’s decision, we believe John Hinckley is still a threat to others and we strongly oppose his release.”
But Reagan’s son Michael Reagan, president of the Reagan Legacy Foundation, tweeted Wednesday: “My father did more than say the Lords Prayer. He lived it in forgiving John Hinkley Jr…Maybe we should do the same….Mike Reagan.”
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump also criticized the ruling. He said at a press conference, “John Hinckley should not have been released.” The candidate at first mistakenly referred to Mr. Hinckley as “David.”
The judge said in an order that Mr. Hinckley will begin a “convalescent leave” on Aug. 5.
Judge Friedman said “all of the experts and treatment providers” who testified during a court hearing agreed that Mr. Hinckley’s major depression and psychotic disorder were “in full and sustained remission and have been for more than twenty years.”
“Mr. Hinckley is clinically ready for full-time convalescent leave,” the judge wrote.
Three others were wounded in the attack — Secret Service Agent Tim McCarthy, District police Officer Thomas Delahanty and White House press secretary Jim Brady.
Paralyzed and using a wheelchair for years after, Brady became a fervent gun-control advocate with his wife, Sarah. When Brady died in 2014, the medical examiner deemed his death a homicide.
Sarah Brady was head of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence until her death last year.
After the shooting in 1981, Mr. Hinckley pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. He had delusions involving the movie “Taxi Driver” and of using the shooting to impress actress Jodie Foster, who starred in the movie with Robert De Niro.
Mr. Hinckley was sent to St. Elizabeths Hospital. Years later, he was able to walk off the grounds on a part-time basis.
Mr. Shirley called the judge’s decision Wednesday “outrageous.”
“No matter how much supervision he has, John Hinckley cannot be trusted to move and function in society,” Mr. Shirley said on Facebook. “Even though his victims, President Ronald Reagan and White House Press Secretary James Brady have passed on, Mr. Hinckley remains a threat. According to the Secret Service, he is still obsessed with Jodie Foster.”
He added, “Hinckley’s actions remain a terrible stain on American history and a reminder of the lifetime of damage that can be caused by one man in a matter of seconds.”
• Ken Shepherd contributed to this report.
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