January 31, 2023

Survivors of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, filed a $27 billion class-action lawsuit against the city, the school district, several law enforcement agencies and individual officials present that day, court documents show.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Austin federal court, lists the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Department, the Uvalde Police Department, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and individual officers from each agency as accused.

Texas DPS chief Steve McCraw, one of the highest-ranking officers sued, is included on that list. Parents of Robb Elementary students have previously urged McCraw to resign. He claims the agency as an institution did not fail in responding to the shooting.

Parents, teachers, school staff and students who were at the scene on May 24, the day 19 fourth graders and two teachers were killed and dozens others injured, are listed as plaintiffs. They are demanding redress for “the indelible and eternally lasting trauma” caused by law enforcement’s failure to respond quickly to the shooting.

In the weeks after the shooting, local lawmakers launched an investigation, held a hearing, and released a report into what went wrong that day. Investigators uncovered the serious security vulnerabilities, the slow police response and the gunman’s missed warning signs.

Contrary to what law enforcement originally said, this happened in the hours after the shooting, and officers were not following their active marksman training. This training directs officers to quickly neutralize a shooter. In Uvalde, 376 officers from several local authorities would arrive after the gunman Salvador Ramos entered the school. Despite 911 calls from students in the adjoining fourth-grade classrooms that Ramos attacked, officers took no action in the hallway outside for more than an hour.

“It took law enforcement seventy-seven minutes to do what they were required to do expeditiously,” the complaint reads.

Court documents further detail how a heartbreaking array of other failures by officers at the scene, as well as lackluster security at Robb Elementary, contributed to the tragedy.

In response to a request for comment on the lawsuit, the city of Uvalde sent a statement to NPR, saying, “The city has not been served and is not commenting on any pending litigation.”

It is unclear whether other parties named in the complaint have already been served. Officials from the Uvalde School District, as well as the Texas DPS, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Some officers at the scene that day, including Texas DPS Sgt. Juan Maldonado and Pete Arredondo, the Uvalde school district police chief, were fired months after the shooting. The Uvalde school district also announced in October that its police department would be suspended.

This is the first class action lawsuit filed in connection with the tragedy, but other parents of some of the children killed have also recently sued the school district, as well as the manufacturer of one of the weapons used, Daniel Defense, and others.

The City of Uvalde is pursuing its own legal action

On Thursday, the City of Uvalde announced that it had filed its own lawsuit in its official capacity against Uvalde District Attorney Christina Mitchell. The city wants a judge to compel Mitchell and her office to turn over all investigative and law enforcement materials related to the Robb Elementary shooting.

“Despite the City of Uvalde’s efforts to amicably obtain the necessary investigative materials for the ongoing investigation into the internal affairs of the Uvalde Police Department, the District Attorney has blocked the City’s ability to obtain information vital to the actions of its officers and compliance with policies and assessing expectations of the police department,” said a statement announcing the lawsuit.

Mitchell’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *