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Filing civil lawsuits against Uvalde authorities would be 'very difficult,' defense attorney says

Attorney Dan Cogdell answered questions regarding any possible legal ramifications in the Uvalde school shooting.

DALLAS — New information from the Texas Department of Public Safety on Friday painted a picture of how authorities mishandled their response to the deadly mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde.

In a news conference on Friday, Texas DPS executive director Steven McCraw said Uvalde police officers made the "wrong decision" when they didn't breach a classroom that the shooter was inside and waited about an hour before making entry.

McCraw said there were 19 officers inside the school as children called 911. He added that a commanding officer viewed the incident as a barricaded subject rather than an active shooting, which led to officers having to wait for equipment to breach the classroom door.

In light of the new information, a defense attorney based in Texas spoke to WFAA about what, if any, legal ramifications authorities could face for their mishandling of the situation.

Civil litigation potential

Attorney Dan Cogdell told WFAA that it would be "very, very difficult" for families of the 19 students and two teachers killed and survivors to file civil lawsuits against police.

“In terms of any civil litigation that the families of the victims can pursue is going to be very, very difficult," Cogdell said. "The typical remedy for police misconduct is a civil lawsuit pursuant to civil section 1983 which allows an individual to sue actors who are acting under state law."

McCraw and Texas DPS on Friday released a more detailed timeline of when the shooter, Salvador Ramos, entered the school and began shooting. McCraw said children were still calling 911 during the one hour that Ramos was inside a classroom.

During these events, parents and family members were outside the school pleading to authorities to go inside the school. An uncle of a shooting victim who survived told WFAA that parents just wanted to run in and take out the shooter themselves.

"Unfortunately for the families in this case, I don’t think their constitutional rights were violated because you don’t have a constitutional right, for example, to have speedy response to your tragedy," Cogdell said.

"It’s going to be very difficult for the families to collect any civil judgment in this case, recognizing that’s never going to make anyone whole," he added.

What about criminal charges?

Cogdell also addressed questions regarding the potential for any criminal charges against officers for mishandling their response.

He said he doesn't see a possibility, for now, of any criminal violations.

"What I see, sadly, is confederacy of dunces. A perfect storm of poor decision followed by poor decision followed by a worse decision followed by the worst decision," Cogdell said.

"In terms of criminal responsibility, the police aspect of it, I don’t think we can get there from here," he added. "I wish we could, to the extent that it might change conduct in the future. But I don’t see a criminal violation on the part of the law enforcement."

Investigations into the horrific attack are well underway by multiple law enforcement agencies such as Texas DPS and the ATF.

Gov. Greg Abbott said Friday that he expects law enforcement to conduct full investigations to what exactly happened.

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