Multiple Media Outlets Sue Uvalde Officials Over Failure to Make Mass Shooting Records Public

By Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts is a news writer for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States, world, and business news.
August 31, 2022 Updated: August 31, 2022

A string of media outlets and organizations have filed a lawsuit against officials in Uvalde, Texas, for failing to publicly release records related to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in Uvalde County against the city of Uvalde, the Uvalde County Sheriff’s Office, and the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District.

It asks that the judge order the local entities to release records related to the shooting in May, including “911 calls, radio traffic, officer body camera footage, police reports, training materials, and school surveillance footage,” according to The Texas Tribune, one of the media outlets that filed the lawsuit.

The Associated Press, The New York Times, The Washington Post, NBC News, ABC News, CBS News, and ProPublica have also joined the lawsuit, along with Gannett and Dow Jones & Co.

Those news outlets had requested the records months ago under the Texas Public Information Act but Uvalde officials and state police had declined to publish them, citing ongoing investigations into the matter, according to The Associated Press.

The Texas Attorney General’s Office has also ruled that Uvalde officials cannot withhold all records, The Texas Tribune reports, yet the records have still not been released by city officials.

Epoch Times Photo
State troopers stand outside of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, 2022. (Alison Dinner/AFP via Getty Images)

City officials have, however, released some body camera footage from the day of the shooting which shows heavily-armed officers arriving at the school and walking toward a classroom where the gunman was believed to be.

However, plaintiffs in the lawsuit argue that further records need to be made public because both false and misleading statements made by authorities regarding how the police initially responded to the incident have sowed distrust among both the public and the victims of the families.

‘Prolonged Pain’

Plaintiffs state that transparency is needed regarding the events of that day in which law enforcement took 77 minutes to take down gunman Salvador Ramos.

May’s mass shooting claimed the lives of 19 children and two teachers.

Epoch Times Photo
Family members attend a city council meeting to get answers about the May 24 mass school shooting that left 19 children and two teachers dead, in Uvalde, Texas, on June 30, 2022. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

77-page report published on July 17 by the Texas state House of Representatives said there were “shortcomings and failures” across the board by both law enforcement and the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District in its handling of the shooting.

“For more than three months, the City of Uvalde, Uvalde CISD, and Uvalde Sheriff’s Office have resisted the community’s calls for transparency and accountability,” said Laura Lee Prather, a First Amendment lawyer at Haynes and Boone who represents the plaintiffs.

“Their obfuscation has only prolonged the pain and grief of this tragedy. Today we are asking the Uvalde District Court to heed the call of the community and recognize that the public is entitled to these records under Texas law. We ask that the court grant our petition so that the people of Uvalde can understand the truth about what happened that fateful day.”

A spokeswoman for the city of Uvalde told The Associated Press that it had not been served a copy of the lawsuit and declined comment.

The Epoch Times has contacted The Uvalde County Sheriff’s Office and the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District for comment.

The lawsuit comes shortly after the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District school board voted unanimously to fire the district’s Police Chief Pete Arredondo, following mounting criticism over his response to the shooting.

Katabella Roberts is a news writer for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States, world, and business news.