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Texas Senator Sues DPS For Allegedly Withholding Uvalde Records

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Texas State Senator Roland Gutierrez | Image by The Texas Tribune

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Texas State Senator Roland Gutierrez sued the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) last Wednesday after accusing the agency of withholding records related to the Uvalde school shooting.

Gutierrez represents Texas Senate District 19, which includes the city of Uvalde.


Details surrounding the deadly shooting that left 21 dead have been scarce, despite members of the press and Texas government pushing for their release.

“In the wake of the senseless tragedy, the people of Uvalde and Texas have demanded answers from their government. To date, they have been met with lies, misstatements, and shifts of blame,” declared Sen. Gutierrez in his lawsuit.

He claimed that he made a request for the documentation on May 31, per the state’s Public Information Act (PIA), but DPS has yet to respond.

The PIA “provides a mechanism for citizens to inspect or copy government records. It also provides that governmental bodies may withhold government records from the public in specific instances,” according to the Texas Attorney General’s Office website.

Speaking with the Texas Tribune, Gutierrez said that obtaining the records could give insight into why it took so long for officers to subdue the shooter.

The Uvalde police response has been heavily criticized, with questions left unanswered regarding the exact timeframe of the incident.

Recently, records showed that officers were properly equipped to confront the shooter inside the classroom yet waited 77 minutes to do so. Accounts from officers detail frustrations with leadership during the emergency, and that clear organization was not established.

“In short, my constituents need answers to questions about who was on-site, when exactly DPS and police were outside and inside Robb Elementary, and who was in charge of our tactical response to this heinous crime,” Gutierrez wrote in a letter to DPS Director Steve McGraw.

During a hearing on June 21, McGraw responded by stating that the DPS did not have the authority to take command of the situation and that responsibility lies in the hands of the Uvalde police because they had jurisdiction.

The commander on the scene, the school district’s police chief, Pete Arredondo, “decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children,” McGraw said.

“This set our profession back a decade,” he added, changing his previous tune that the police response was adequate.

In his lawsuit, Guiterrez also pointed out some contradictions and misinformation given by officials after the shooting in early press conferences.

He alleged that statements by Governor Abbott, such as “officers from the [Uvalde] consolidated school district engaged the gunman” while the gunman was still entering the school, were false.

Abbott later retracted and apologized for prior comments, claiming the information he was given was “inaccurate.”

For his part, Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin has said that he has been left out of recent briefings from Texas DPS and other official meetings. He claims that as more information is made available to his office, it will be released to the public.

“The gloves are off. If we know it, we will share it,” McLaughlin stated.     

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