Uvalde hires law firm to block release of school shooting public records

The city of Uvalde has hired a private Texas law firm to argue that it should be exempt from releasing public records related to the Robb Elementary School mass shooting, according to a letter obtained by Vice.

The Uvalde police department has faced severe criticism for its failures in responding to the shooting, which killed 21 people, including 19 children. Officials have since retracted multiple statements and accepted that it was the “wrong decision” to keep 19 officers waiting outside the classroom while the shooter remained inside with children who made several 911 calls.

In a letter to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, the city’s lawyer Cynthia Trevino argues that Uvalde, which has received 148 separate public records requests, should not have to release them because the city is being sued and investigated for the police department’s response to the shooting, and because some records could include “highly embarrassing information.”

“The City has not voluntarily released any information to a member of the public,” Trevino said in the letter. Trevino has also claimed that some of that information is “not of legitimate concern to the public” and could reveal “methods, techniques, and strategies for preventing and predicting crime.”

Releasing the records could cause “emotional/mental distress” and poses a “substantial threat of physical harm … for certain employees or city officials,” the letter states. The letter doesn’t note who the records are about, how their release would be “highly embarrassing” and why they would not be “of legitimate concern to the public.”

The Department of Justice recently launched a review of local law enforcement’s response to the Uvalde mass shooting.

The New York Times reported Friday that a Uvalde police officer who’d been armed with an AR-15-style rifle did not follow through on a brief window to shoot the gunman as he was firing outside the school. The officer had not wanted to hit any children, according to the Times.

The chief of the Uvalde school district police department has defended the delay in officers confronting the gunman.




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