Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and state agencies are fighting the release of records related to the emergency response to the Uvalde school shooting, The Texas Tribune reports.
News agencies have submitted dozens of public records requests, seeking information about the law enforcement response, 911 recordings, police camera footage, and other records.
“The public wants immediate transparency,” said Kelley Shannon, executive director of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas. “The most enlightened law enforcement agencies understand the importance of being transparent, being open and doing it right away.”
Push to block records:
Abbott’s office, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the US Marshals Service, and the city of Uvalde have asked the state attorney’s general office to withhold records while other agencies have asked for extensions.
Officials have expressed concerns that releasing body camera footage could provide criminals with “invaluable information” about its techniques.
In other cases, agencies argue that releasing such information could interfere with ongoing investigations.
Abbott’s office said that, upon completion of the investigations, “we look forward to the full results being shared with the victims’ families and the public, who deserve the full truth of what happened that tragic day.”
The dead-suspect loophole allows officials to withhold information about a suspect who is deceased.
Laura Prather, a Texas First Amendment attorney, said the loophole exists to protect people who were not convicted of a crime, “not to protect law enforcement for their actions in circumstances like this, where the shooter is dead.”
“The public has the right to know what happened that day, and right now they can only act on rumors and conflicting information,” she said, adding that agencies are using their powers “to thwart the public from getting information that they are rightly entitled to.”