The lawsuit alleges that the Texas Department of Public Safety has refused to respond to Public Information requests concerning authorities’ reactions to the in-progress shooting.
More than a dozen news and media organizations have filed a lawsuit against the Texas Department of Public Safety, accusing the agency of trying to block the release of public records relating the Uvalde school shooting.
According to The Texas Tribune, each media organization involved in the litigation says that it has already filed access requests under the state Public Information Act.
The plaintiffs, which include outlets such as the Texas Tribune, the New York Times, and Washington Post, are seeking additional information on how public safety and law enforcement authorities reacted to the Uvalde school shooting in May.
The shooting, which left nineteen students and two teachers dead, attracted widespread national scrutiny after the Uvalde Police Department repeatedly released misleading and false information about its officers’ response to the massacre.
While Uvalde law enforcement officials initially claimed that they took fast action against the shooter, independent investigators quickly concluded that officers failed to take action against the shooter for nearly an hour.
Some reports suggest that Uvalde officers refused to breach the classroom the shooter had taken refuge in, even as he continued to fire upon trapped students.
Meanwhile, law enforcement allegedly blocked frantic parents from trying to breach the premises themselves, threatening to pepper spray and arrest them from interfering with police work.
Now, news organizations suggest that the Texas Department of Public Safety is actively trying to withhold further information about the Uvalde Police Department’s response.
“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 awful 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 lawsuit says. “At the same time, DPS has offered conflicting accounts regarding the response of law enforcement, the conduct of its officers, the results of its own investigation, and the agency’s justifications for withholding information from the public.”
The Texas Tribune, among the plaintiffs in the claim, says that the lawsuit is seeking media access to a broad variety of law enforcement records, including body camera footage and internal communications.
“The Texas Department of Public Safety has offered inconsistent accounts of how law enforcement responded to the Uvalde tragedy, and its lack of transparency has stirred suspicion and frustration in a community that is still struggling with grief and shock,” said Laura Lee Prather, a Haynes Boone ‘First Amendment’ attorney representing the media organizations. “DPS has refused numerous requests by these news organizations even though it’s clear under Texas law that the public is entitled to have access to these important public records. We ask that the court grant our petition so that the people of Texas can understand the truth about what happened.”