Updated Jun 17, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Uvalde hires law firm to block release of school shooting public records

Photo of a sign that says "Pray for Uvalde"

People pay their respects at a memorial in front of Robb Elementary School on June 17, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas. Photo: Brandon Bell via Getty Images

The city of Uvalde has contracted a private Texas law firm to argue that it should be exempt from releasing public records related to the Robb Elementary School mass shooting, according to a letter obtained by Vice.

Why it matters: The Uvalde police department has faced fierce backlash for its failures in responding to the shooting, which killed 21 people, including 19 children. Officials have since retracted multiple statements and acknowledged that it was the "wrong decision" to keep 19 officers waiting outside the classroom while the shooter remained inside with children who made repeated 911 calls.

What they're saying: In a letter to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, the city's lawyer Cynthia Trevino argues that Uvalde, which has received 148 separate public records requests, should not have to release them because the city is being sued and investigated for the police department's response to the shooting, and because some records could include "highly embarrassing information."

  • "The City has not voluntarily released any information to a member of the public," Trevino said in the letter.
  • The lawyer also claims some of that information is "not of legitimate concern to the public" and could reveal "methods, techniques, and strategies for preventing and predicting crime."
  • Releasing the records could cause "emotional/mental distress" and poses a "substantial threat of physical harm ... for certain employees or city officials," the letter states.

Yes, but: The letter doesn't note who the records are about, how their release would be "highly embarrassing" and why they would not be "of legitimate concern to the public."

The big picture: The Department of Justice recently launched a review of local law enforcement's response to the Uvalde mass shooting.

Go deeper... Uvalde gunman's last 90 minutes: What we know

Go deeper