Texas State Senator Roland Gutierrez on Wednesday sued the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), accusing the agency of wrongfully refusing a request for public records after the deadly massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde late last month, according to legal authorities. documents provided to Yahoo. News.
“In the wake of this massacre, the state of Texas has failed to provide truthful answers to the Uvalde community,” Gutierrez, a Democrat, said in a statement. “Weeks have come and gone, and yet families who have lost their children have not been given basic information by their government about who was on the scene when their children bled, what tools were at their disposal to stop the shooter, and exactly why they decided waiting instead of acting.”
In the request for public records, Gutierrez requested a ballistics report on the shooting, policy manuals or documents explaining how law enforcement cooperates during active shootings, and any other reports detailing the police response to the shooting. The lawsuit, which comes nearly a month after the May 24 shooting — in which an 18-year-old gunman killed 19 children and two teachers — states the DPS had 10 business days to respond to Gutierrez’s request or request a decision. to ask the lawyer in general about the archive request. The agency, the lawsuit says, did neither.
Gutierrez told Yahoo News last week that lack of transparency by law enforcement has led to a lack of trust in the residents of Uvalde.
“That lack of trust is based less on the mistakes and omissions and more on the fact that no one is saying anything,” Gutierrez said. “There is no transparency and no truth. If you can’t muster your truths and say you failed and let me know how you failed, you’re going to be in trouble.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, has also been the culprit of misinformation. In a press conference a day after the shooting, Abbott said an officer from the Uvalde school district confronted the gunman before entering the school. He later said that he had been misled about what happened on the day of the shooting and that he… “furious” about it†
Abbott Press Secretary, Renae Eze, said in a statement Tuesday: “All information that the Cabinet of the Governor has regarding the shooting in Uvalde has already been released to the public or is being released in an accelerated process. Governor Abbott has been adamant from day one that any information related to the tragedy at Robb Elementary School will be shared with the families of the victims, the Uvalde community and the entire state.”
Wednesday’s suit appears to be just the latest domino in a frenzy of backtracking, procedural errors and silence from local law enforcement officials that have led critics to claim a cover-up by Uvalde police.
Late last week, Vice reported: the city of Uvalde and its police department also partnered with a private law firm to prevent nearly all details of the shooting from being made public.
The Texas Tribune and ProPublica claim they have submitted about 70 requests to both state and local agencies for emergency documentation for what happened that day at Robb Elementary. The requests include 911 calls, police CCTV footage and communications between local, state and federal agencies. So far, none of those requests have been honored.
“The public wants immediate transparency,” Kelley Shannon, executive director of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, told the news outlets. “The most enlightened law enforcement agencies understand the importance of being transparent, being open and doing it right away.”
Texas DPS did not respond to multiple requests for comment from Yahoo News.
CNN reporter Shimon Prokupecz shared a video on Monday revealing that he and other media personnel were asked to leave Uvalde City Hall, where lawmakers met law enforcement officers behind closed doors as people were “intimidated” by them.
The images led many users to disapprove of #UvaldeCoverUp on social media.
later that night, lawyer Sara Azara tweeted that the officer’s response showed “incompetence and cowardice” after new images revealed that Uvalde police were in the school nearly an hour before confronting the gunman with guns and at least one ballistic shield.
“58 minutes of bloodshed [and] massacre as officers stood unemployed outside the classroom,” Azara tweeted. “Armed and shielded. The incompetence and cowardice alone justify revealing the bodycam. Produce the goods! #UvaldeCoverUp.”
Sara Spector, a former Uvalde prosecutor who last worked in the city for five years in 2017, told Yahoo News earlier this month that given her experience with local law enforcement, she doubts the public will ever know the truth.
“I knew after the second press conference that there was a cover-up, that something was wrong,” Spector said. “I knew eight years ago and that this brought back a lot of memories that I had forgotten.”
As the legal implications pile up, physical changes are coming to Uvalde. Mayor Don McLaughlin, at a council meeting on Tuesday, Robb said Elementary School would be demolished, though he didn’t provide a timeline.
“You can never ask a kid to go back or a teacher to go back to that school someday,” he said.
Democratic governor candidate Beto O’Rourke, Abbott’s opponent in November, has been a consistent voice, demanding transparency over last month’s massacre.
“Stop Deceiving Us”, O’Rourke tweeted on Monday in response to a report that Abbott fought against the release of public records. “Texans deserve to know what happened in Uvalde. Tell the truth.”
Cover thumbnail photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images