AUSTIN, Texas – State Senator Roland Gutierrez is suing the Texas Department of Public Safety for access to records related to the massacre at Robb Elementary School.
Gutierrez said he has been unlawfully denied access to the records after putting in an open records request.
“In the wake of this massacre, the State of Texas has completely failed to provide the community of Uvalde with truthful answers. Weeks have come and gone, and yet families who lost their children have not been told by their government the basic information about who was on site as their children bled, what tools were at their disposal to stop the gunman, and exactly why they decided to wait instead of act,” said Gutierrez.
Court petition documents show Gutierrez is alleging that Uvalde police and DPS officials have given “provably false misstatements and misinformation surrounding the law enforcement response to the school shooting” despite media outlets demanding this information.
ProPublica and The Texas Tribune have submitted roughly 70 public information requests in reference to the May 24 tragedy, the petition shows. Requested records include 911 audio recordings, body and police car camera footage and communication between various federal, state and local agencies.
“From the very start, the response to this awful gun tragedy has been full of misinformation and outright lies from our government. On the first day following the shooting, Governor Abbott told us that without law enforcement’s quick response this situation would have been worse,” Gutierrez said. “That was one of several political narratives that turned out not to be accurate information.”
Abbott has come out since that initial statement saying he was “misled” about the events surrounding what happened during the massacre, which caused him to share inaccurate information in the days following the shooting.
“I am livid about what happened,” Abbott said on May 27. “The information I was given turned out, in part, to be inaccurate, and I am absolutely livid about that.”
Gutierrez has said “diligent reporting” since the tragedy occurred has helped reveal more of the truth.
“For over 40 agonizing minutes students and teachers lay dying in the classrooms, hopelessly dialing 9-1-1 while law enforcement held back and waited for keys despite having at least 3 ballistic shields and a breaching tool on-site,” said Gutierrez. “By not taking common sense gun safety measures to prevent such atrocities as this, the state of Texas failed 21 Texans, their families, and countless others touched by the tragedy.”
The court petition states that various government agencies have been using an exception for law enforcement to deny the open records requests.
According to the petition, at least one open record request for access to body camera footage was denied by DPS because it would “provide criminals with ‘invaluable information’ about its investigative techniques, information sharing and criminal analysis.”
However, commonly known techniques, routine investigative procedures and routine personnel information have been released in the past, the petition shows.
Another open record request denial cited an ongoing investigation by 38th Judicial District Attorney, Christina Mitchell Busbee but she said she is “not investigating anything” and is not involved in an active investigation.
“We must not fail these families again with cover ups and misinformation,” Gutierrez said. “The community of Uvalde deserves answers now, so that we can begin to heal and make sure a massacre like this never happens again.”
The court petition can be viewed below: