Statesman and other media sue Uvalde officials for shooting records

Paul J. Weber

The American statesman, the Associated Press and other news outlets are suing officials in Uvalde after months of refusing to release documents related to the Robb Elementary School massacre.

The lawsuit filed Monday in Uvalde County asks a court to force the city, school district and sheriff’s department to turn over 911 recordings, personnel records and other documents. Newsrooms requested them under Texas open record laws from a shooter killed 19 children and two teachers on May 24.

More than three months after one of the deadliest classroom shootings in U.S. history, news organizations have turned to the courts in a bid to obtain information and records that those responsible for Uvalde and the state police said they could not disclose due to ongoing investigations. The Texas Attorney General’s office also ruled that Uvalde officials could not withhold all of the records.

The authorities’ misleading and outright false statements about the police response in the first hours and days after the attack on two fourth-grade classrooms – which lasted more than 70 minutes – has sown distrust that remains among many residents of Uvalde.

“The obfuscation and inaction have only prolonged the pain of the victims, their families and the community at large, all of whom continue to call for transparency regarding the events of that day,” the lawsuit states.

After:As Uvalde’s questions mount, AG Ken Paxton’s office debates whether to keep files secret

A spokeswoman for the town of Uvalde said she had not received a copy of the lawsuit and declined to comment. Representatives for the school district and the sheriff’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Uvalde officials, including Mayor Don McLaughlin, have already cited ongoing investigations in their defense of the city continuing to withhold certain files. The city released some footage from the Uvalde police body camera which show officers from multiple agencies inside and outside the school during the attack. The Statesman published a school hallway video showing over an hour of police inactionwho had been withheld from disclosure by the school district.

The fullest account of the shooting so far has come of a report by a Texas House investigative committee which found wide failures of nearly 400 officers who rushed to the scene but waited over an hour to confront the shooter. That report, released in July, also noted that Uvalde’s families had “already waited too long for answers and transparency.”

The Texas Department of Public Safety, which had more than 90 officers at the scene, has also denied requests for public records since the mass shooting.