DALLAS — What were Texas Department of Public Safety troopers doing at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde on May 24, the day a gunman shot and killed 19 students and two teachers? That’s what a media coalition – one that includes WFAA – is trying to find out through a lawsuit filed on Monday.
WFAA is part of a coalition of local, national and state media organizations that have now filed a lawsuit against the Texas Department of Public Safety for not releasing public records regarding the Uvalde shooting.
Under state law, records are presumed public unless a government body cites a specific exemption under the Texas Public Information Act that allows information to be withheld.
DPS has told the media that it is not releasing records relating to the shooting because of its ongoing investigation into the matter -- but WFAA, along with the rest of the coalition, argues that there is no such investigation, as the guilt of the gunman is not in dispute and authorities say he acted alone.
The Uvalde County district attorney has also said that she is not conducting a criminal investigation into the matter.
The records requested by the coalition include emails, body camera and other video footage, call logs, 911 calls and other emergency communications, interview notes, forensic and ballistic records, and lists of DPS personnel who responded to the mass shooting.
"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 in the lawsuit asserted in a news release. "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."
This lawsuit is focused on getting answers, and understanding the truth about what happened, in Uvalde.
DPS had 91 officers respond to the shooting.
The media organizations involved in the suit include WFAA and its fellow TEGNA Texas television stations; The Texas Tribune, ABC News; CBS News; CNN; Dow Jones & Co.; Gannett; Graham Media Group, Houston; Graham Media Group, San Antonio; NBC News; The New York Times Company; Pro Publica, Inc.; Scripps Media; and The Washington Post.
Read the lawsuit in full here.