Jun 8, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Garland announces team to review police response to Uvalde shooting

A memorial outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on June 3.

A memorial outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on June 3. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday announced that a Department of Justice team of nine people will review local law enforcement's response to the Uvalde mass shooting, in which 19 children and two adults were killed last month.

Why it matters: Local and state law enforcement officials in Texas have faced intense criticism as more details about their immediate response to the Robb Elementary school shooting have emerged.

  • The Justice Department's review is not a criminal investigation but an examination of law enforcement officials' actions and failures, conducted by its Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).
  • The review was requested by Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin and will culminate in a report that will be made public, with its findings and recommendations.

What they're saying: "The review will be comprehensive, it will be transparent and it will be independent," Garland said.

  • "We will be assessing what happened that day. We will be doing site visits at the school. We will be conducting interviews [with] an extremely wide variety of stakeholders, witnesses, families, law enforcement, government officials, school officials," he added.
  • The review will be led by COPS director Robert Chapman and the office's senior counsel and will involve current and former law enforcement officials, including former police chiefs and an FBI official.

The big picture: Texas authorities have so far relayed then later retracted multiple key details about the school shooting, leading to confusion about what exactly happened.

  • It's now known, based on a timeline provided by the Texas Department of Public Safety in May, that the shooter was inside the school for around 80 minutes before he was killed by law enforcement officials.
  • After the shooter entered the school, he quickly locked himself in two connected fourth-grade classrooms with students and teachers.
  • Texas Department of Public Safety said the on-scene commander made "the wrong decision" by believing the gunman to be a "barricaded subject" rather than an active shooter, despite several 911 calls from students inside classrooms.
  • Police did not breach one of the doors to the classrooms until around 50 minutes after the first 911 call was placed. A Texas state lawmaker claimed last week that the calls were not relayed to the on-scene commander.

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