Major news outlets sue Texas agency for withholding Uvalde shooting records

Major news outlets sue Texas agency for withholding Uvalde shooting records

Lawsuit says Texas Department of Public Safety ‘declined to provide any meaningful information’ regarding events of that day

Visitors walk past a makeshift memorial honoring those killed at Robb elementary school, in Uvalde, Texas.

More than a dozen major US news organizations are banding together to sue the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) for failing to release public records related to the shooting at Robb elementary school in Uvalde that left 19 children and two teachers dead.

The lawsuit comes after reporters from these local and national news outlets were denied over 70 requests made to the DPS surrounding the shooting under the Texas Public Information Act, which requires governmental bodies to release information in the interest of the public.

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Among the news outlets involved in the lawsuit are the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Texas Tribune, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and others.

Although the DPS selectively released information through press conferences and reports, it refused to enforce the disclosure of records of call logs, body camera footage, interview notes and other files to members of the press, citing an ongoing investigation as the reason.

While exceptions to records requests are allowed in certain instances, these news organizations are arguing the investigation is no longer continuing since it was declared the 18-year old gunman was guilty and acted alone.

“In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, and continuing throughout the ensuing two months, DPS has declined to provide any meaningful information in response to the Requests regarding the events of that day – despite the unfathomable reality that some 376 members of law enforcement responded to the tragedy, and hundreds of those were in the school or on school property not going into the unlocked classroom where the gunman continued killing helpless youth,” the plaintiffs said in a statement.

Conflicting accounts of what happened that day, as well as the justification for withholding information from the public calls into urgency the need for transparency with the media. One disputed narrative that emerged was from a DPS commissioned report from the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (Alerrt), which stated an officer saw the shooter outside of the school and failed to act because he was awaiting a directive from his supervisor. Uvalde mayor Don McLaughlin later claimed that it was not the shooter the officer saw, but a coach with children on the playground.

The plaintiffs are represented by the Haynes and Boone law firm. The lawsuit seeks to force the DPS to produce all requested records related to the Uvalde shooting so that the public can understand what really happened that day.