Uvalde Officials Use Legal Loophole to Hide Shooting Records

© AP Photo / Eric GayMembers of the Pharr, Texas, police department visit a memorial at Robb Elementary School to honor the victims killed in last week's school shooting, Thursday, June 2, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas.
Members of the Pharr, Texas, police department visit a memorial at Robb Elementary School to honor the victims killed in last week's school shooting, Thursday, June 2, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas. - Sputnik International, 1920, 19.06.2022
Nineteen children and two teachers were gunned down at Robb Elementary on May 24 by an 18-year-old armed with an assault rifle and tactical vest. Reports quickly emerged that police hesitated outside of the school for up to an hour while the gunman was inside.
Parents were caught on tape pleading with the officers to enter the school. One mother told the Wall Street Journal she was put in handcuffs after pleading with officers to enter the school. “The police were doing nothing,” Angeli Rose Gomez said.
“It took them 45 minutes to do what? Nothing,” said Jose Cazares whose niece, Jackie, died in the shooting. “My brother said ‘let me go in there … my baby is in there. I’m not going anywhere until I see my baby.”
“I heard the governor say that he allocated half a billion dollars for school safety,” Cazares added. “Why wasn’t that school safe?”
Now Uvalde officials are using a legal loophole as well as other broad exemptions under Texas state law to avoid releasing police records. The move isn't surprising after the police failed to provide clear information regarding the shooting, opting instead to provide minimal information and continually changing their narrative on what transpired.
Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks to announce a team to conduct a critical incident review of the shooting in Uvalde, Texas, during a media availability at the Department of Justice , Wednesday, June 8, 2022, in Washington. - Sputnik International, 1920, 08.06.2022
DOJ Probe of Uvalde Police Response to Include 'Complete Incident Reconstruction' of Shooting
Almost 150 public record requests, including police body camera footage and recorded 911 calls have been sent to the Uvalde officials.
While the Texas Department of Public Safety is currently investigating the shooting, the City of Uvalde has hired a private law firm. Cynthia Trevino from the firm Denton Navarro Rocha Bernal & Zech, contacted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Thursday asking him to rule on which public records have to be released, according to NPR.
The firm is using the “dead suspect loophole” as a reason to conceal information regarding the shooting. The loophole essentially argues that if a person dies while in police custody they are “protected” by law because they were not yet charged for their crime.
Police in Texas do not have to turn over information if a person dies in their custody. Governor Greg Abbott and a Texas police union have worked in the past to uphold this law.
"The policy consideration is a good one. Maybe you’re wrongfully accused of something; this was meant to protect the accused. And now it’s been flipped on its head," said Texas Representative Joe Moody, who is also vice chair of the state house committee which is investigating the shooting.
HOUSTON, TX - MAY 27: A gun control advocate holds a sign during a protest across from the National Rifle Association Annual Meeting at the George R. Brown Convention Center, on May 27, 2022 in Houston, Texas.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.06.2022
Uvalde Teacher Who Survived the Attack Says He Will ‘Never Forgive’ Law Enforcement
Texas Representative Dustin Burrows, who is leading the investigation behind closed doors, said he didn’t understand why the Uvalde police took so long to cooperate with the investigation. Uvalde school district police chief Pete Arrendondo has not been included in the list of witnesses being investigated by the committee.
"It is meant to protect the innocent," added Kelley Shannon, who is the executive director of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas. “[In some cases] it is being used and misused in a way that was never intended."
The news of Uvalde officials essentially smothering details regarding the shooting comes on the heels of a senior sheriff’s deputy telling the New York Times that Uvalde police passed up the chance to shoot the gunman before he entered the school.
On Saturday it was revealed that Chief Deputy Ricardo Rios said that two officers, one of whom had an AR-15-style rifle, failed to take down the school shooter because they were afraid of hitting children who were playing in the line of fire. The gunman first entered the school at 11:33 a.m. It was not until 12:50 p.m. that police shot the 18 year-old gunman.
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