The City of Uvalde has filed a lawsuit against Uvalde County District Attorney Christina Mitchell, alleging she is blocking the city’s independent investigator from accessing key evidence into the May 24 mass shooting at Robb Elementary School.
The city is asking a judge for an injunction requiring the prosecutor to confidentially release extensive investigation records so the city can complete its own review.
The city is seeking access to all body camera footage from the various law enforcement agencies who entered the school, surveillance videos and statements given to investigators, so they can “evaluate the City officers’ response to the Robb School incident, assess whether there were policy violations, and allow the City to determine whether disciplinary action is required,” the lawsuit said.
The massacre at Robb Elementary saw 19 students and two teachers gunned down in adjoining classrooms. It is the second deadliest shooting on a K-12 school in the United States.
A total of 376 law enforcement officers from multiple agencies responded to the shooting, but officers waited 77 minutes after the shooter entered the classrooms before storming in and killing the gunman, an 18-year-old Uvalde resident. In the aftermath, residents, state leaders and lawmakers criticized the police response as well as a lack of transparency regarding internal investigations.
CNN has contacted Mitchell for comment on the legal action.
The criminal investigation may take years and Mitchell has said she will charge anyone who has committed a crime at Robb Elementary, including law enforcement officers.
In June, Mitchell told CNN she did not want records or videos released while investigations were ongoing. “Any release of records to that incident at this time would interfere with said ongoing investigation and would impede a thorough and complete investigation,” she said in a statement.
On Thursday, the city said in a statement that the “community has waited entirely too long for answers and transparency with regard to the Robb Elementary shooting incident,” and this lawsuit is intended to help provide “transparency and accountability.”
Speaking to CNN in November, Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin accused the Uvalde County DA of “shutting down” his attempts at a fully informed internal review, reducing it to a “snail’s pace,” forcing him to rely on “breadcrumbs” brought to light in media reports that “blindside” city officials and victim’s family members.
“We’ve been hamstrung on the side every time.” McLaughlin said. “We can’t get any cooperation from DPS [Texas Department of Public Safety] or any other law enforcement agents because the DA said we can’t have it.”
“We need to know the facts so that we can take the next step,” McLaughlin continued. “The family should have been briefed all along through this of what’s going on, what’s happening, where they are in the investigation. It’s my opinion they should be. And we should be as the city, we should have been briefed of where we’re at and what’s going on so that we can make decisions we need to make.”
The city is itself a defendant in an ongoing public records lawsuit brought by news organizations including CNN, seeking some of the same information on the shooting. City officials have blamed the DA and DPS for withholding records.