More than a dozen major news organizations have filed a lawsuit against the Texas Department of Public Safety to obtain public records relating to the Robb Elementary School massacre.
The coalition includes CNN, the Texas Tribune, and many of the state and the country’s biggest news outlets.
The news organizations have been fighting for weeks to obtain information on behalf of the public amid serial falsehoods and stonewalling from Texas officials in the aftermath of the mass shooting.
The lawsuit, filed in state court in Austin, arises under the Texas Public Information Act, which enables news outlets and members of the public to pursue litigation to obtain records. The news outlets cited many previous requests for information and an “ensuing failure to disclose public records concerning this abhorrent tragedy.”
“The Texas Department of Public Safety has offered inconsistent accounts of how law enforcement responded to the Uvalde tragedy, and its lack of transparency has stirred suspicion and frustration in a community that is still struggling with grief and shock,” said Laura Lee Prather, a First Amendment lawyer at Haynes Boone who represents the plaintiffs. “DPS has refused numerous requests by these news organizations even though it’s clear under Texas law that the public is entitled to have access to these important public records. We ask that the court grant our petition so that the people of Texas can understand the truth about what happened.”
The suit notes that the public safety department has “selectively disclosed” information, but has dismissed more thorough records requests. Thus the news outlets want the court to order the department “to produce all responsive records.”
The other participating news organizations are ABC, CBS, NBC, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal owner Dow Jones, The Washington Post, and ProPublica; local TV and media companies Gannett, Graham Media, Scripps and TEGNA
Nicole Carroll, the editor in chief of Gannett’s USA Today, said on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” last month that the coalition is necessary because “we need to get to the truth. And we’re fighting for these records so we can get the truth.”
Officials have “been stonewalling us” and changing their stories, she pointed out. “We’ve been misled, documents have been withheld.”
Correction: A previous version of this story included news outlets that are not part of the lawsuit.