State and Federal Agencies Restrict Release of Public Records in Uvalde Shooting Investigation
The search for answers in the Robb Elementary School shooting is facing roadblocks as government agencies continue to delay and deny public records requests. For example, KHOU 11 Investigates sent local, state, and federal agencies a dozen letters containing fifty records requests about the shooting and have been met with resistance.
“There’s a lot of CYA involved. There’s no doubt about that. There’s going to be legal action against a lot of these players.” said Joe Larsen, veteran attorney who specializes in open records legal battles, during an interview with KHOU.
“Obviously, we’re not seeing much transparency out of the governmental bodies, the public officials that were involved in the response to the shooting,” said attorney Joe Larsen. “It’s the lack of transparency. That’s really where these governmental institutions are trying to subvert our democratic way of life by restricting the information that we need to be able to address the ills of our society, the problems of our institutions.”
The Texas Department of Public Safety, the City of Uvalde and the Uvalde County Sheriff’s Office have all objected to KHOU requests about 911 calls, police body camera footage, police disciplinary records and dispatch recordings. The requests have been sent to the Attorney General’s Office for review.
An attorney representing the city of Uvalde said in a letter to KHOU that It’s received 148 records requests related to the shooting. The city attorney added that the shooting is being investigated by the FBI, Uvalde District Attorney and Texas Rangers, and they have objected to the disclosure of records that “may interfere with the ongoing investigation.”
Larsen, who spent his career fighting open-records battles, said in the interview with KHOU, “If they wanted to, they could release all that information. They could release all that body camera footage right now.”
Requests to another agency, the U.S. Border Patrol, which is under federal instead of state law, have been “denied in full,” saying they will be releasable after the investigation is completed.