Members of law enforcement lay flowers at a makeshift memorial outside Robb Elementary School.
More than a dozen news organizations have sued the Texas Department of Public Safety, alleging it unlawfully blocked their attempts to obtain public records about the Robb Elementary School massacre in Uvalde.
The coalition — which includes the Texas Tribune, the Washington Post
, the New York Times Co. and CNN — says in its petition that DPS has refused to release records that journalists sought through the Texas Public Information Act to better understand how law enforcement authorities responded to the shooting.
DPS's refusal comes as department officials, including Director Steven McCraw
, have selectively dribbled out information about the tragic event in news conferences and public testimony, according to the suit, filed in Travis County state district court.
Texas and Uvalde officials have faced scathing criticism about their lack of transparency
around the police response to the shooting, which included more than 90 DPS troopers. Even though nearly 376 law enforcement personnel descended on the school, it took them 77 minutes
to enter a classroom and kill the gunman.
“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 media companies' suit states.
The legal action follows a similar suit filed in June
by State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio, who argued that DPS has withheld key documents while his Uvalde constituents were "met with lies, misstatements and shifts of blame."
DPS officials have argued that the department is exempt from providing access to the records since the Robb Elementary shooting is an open investigation. However, the news organizations argue that there's no reason for it to remain an open case since there's no question that the 18-year-old gunman was responsible for the deaths.
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