Judge Forces Uvalde DPS to Release Shooting Records

Media outlets sued for release of call logs, police footage
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 30, 2023 9:01 AM CDT
After Long Fight, Uvalde Shooting Records Are Coming
Mourners gather for a candlelight vigil in Uvalde, Texas, Wednesday, May 24, 2023.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

A judge has ordered the Texas Department of Public Safety to release police dashcam videos, recordings of 911 calls, and other records related to the May 2022 mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, which stands out from other recent mass shootings due to its death toll and what has been dubbed the "disastrous police response." Officers were on scene for more than an hour before confronting and killing the shooter, who had by then killed 19 children and two teachers. More than a dozen media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, and ABC, sued the department last year, saying its refusal to release records related to the shooting violated state law.

The department declined to release most records related to the case—including forensic records, the names of personnel who responded, and the training records of department officers—citing an ongoing investigation by the local district attorney. But news organizations disputed that reasoning on the basis that the guilt of the 18-year-old shooter who acted alone "is not in question," per the Texas Tribune, which also joined the suit. US District Court Judge Daniella Deseta Lyttle sided with the media outlets on Thursday, saying the department must release the records—but they won't become available immediately.

The department has until Aug. 31 to submit a list of proposed redactions before a hearing on the proposal in September, per CNN. The department could appeal before then. But "we're hopeful DPS won't fight this decision and we'll begin the process of providing transparency," Reid Pillifant, an attorney for the plaintiffs, tells the Tribune. "The public deserves a full accounting of what happened that day." As Laura Lee Prather, another lawyer for the plaintiffs, noted in filing the suit last year, per CNN, the department's "inconsistent accounts of how law enforcement responded ... and its lack of transparency has stirred suspicion and frustration in a community that is still struggling with grief and shock." (Read more Uvalde mass shooting stories.)

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