Uvalde School District Claims It Doesn't Possess Video Taken Day of School Shooting

A private law firm hired by Uvalde's school district asserts it doesn't have widely-viewed footage taken the day of the shooting at Robb Elementary School.
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VALDE, TEXAS - JUNE 02: Flowers and plush toys are seen at a memorial dedicated to the victims of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on June 2, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas. 19 students and two teachers were killed on May 24 after an 18-year-old gunman opened fire inside the school. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

In response to a public-records request filed by Motherboard, a lawyer for a private firm working for the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, or UCISD, claims that it possesses no footage taken between 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. on May 24, the day when a gunman killed 19 children and two adults at Robb Elementary School and hundreds of law enforcement officers stood by for more than an hour and did nothing. 

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This continues a pattern of scarcely believable responses to public-records requests from various Uvalde governmental bodies. Previously, lawyers for the City of Uvalde claimed it doesn’t have to release records because they could contain “highly embarrassing information” or regard “emotional/mental distress,” and the UCISD’s lawyers responded to a request in a way suggesting they either don’t understand Texas law or the English language.

Originally, Motherboard requested “Any and all video footage recorded at Robb Elementary School on May 24, 2022 between the hours of 11 am and 4 pm. I am requesting all footage recorded by Robb Elementary School or the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District on dash cameras, body cameras, CCTV cameras, surveillance cameras, cell phone cameras, or other cameras owned or accessed by Robb Elementary or Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, as well as any photos taken at the scene.”

On July 5, more than a month after the initial request was filed, a lawyer for Walsh Gallego, a law firm that according to its website specializes in representing school districts and charter schools, sent Motherboard a copy of a letter they had sent to the state’s attorney general, Ken Paxton, asking him to review their determination that the district did not have to release the requested information because it’s confidential. On July 15, the same lawyer sent Paxton a letter withdrawing the request for review because, they wrote, “the UCISD does not possess the requested information.” Motherboard received the letter August 1.

The lawyer did not respond to multiple calls from Motherboard seeking clarification on how the school district could possibly not possess any of the video footage described in the request, portions of which have been leaked to the news media and viewed by tens if not hundreds of millions of people.

A consortium of media outlets filed a lawsuit against the Texas Department of Public Safety Monday, asserting that it is unlawfully withholding records the outlets have requested under Texas’ open-records law.