Uvalde Police Departments Have Stopped Cooperating with State Investigation

The "good guys with a gun" at the scene did nothing to stop the Uvalde, Texas, shooter, and now they've gone mum.

Uvalde Police Departments Have Stopped Cooperating with State Investigation
Photo:Jae C. Hong (AP)

Both Uvalde police departments have stopped cooperating with the Texas Department of Public Safety’s investigation into the mass murder at Robb Elementary School last week, ABC News reported on Tuesday. Apparently, the two police forces—Uvalde PD and Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District police—haven’t been cooperating with the state police’s investigation since Friday.

What was so special about the last workday before the long Memorial Day weekend? On Friday, DPS Col. Steven McCraw told reporters that the delayed entry into the elementary school was a break from protocol. “From the benefit of hindsight, where I’m sitting now, of course it was not the right decision,” McCraw, the DPS director, said. “It was the wrong decision, period. There’s no excuse for that.”

The 18-year-old gunman shot and killed 19 students and two teachers. Seventeen people were injured in the hour-plus period that police chose not to enter the school, while also barring parents from entering to save their children. “When it comes to an active shooter, you don’t have to wait on tactical gear, plain and simple,” McCraw said, directly contradicting the actions of just about every police employee at the elementary school did after the gunman arrived at the school.

Choosing to not cooperate with a state investigation seems almost natural, following videos that show police doing almost nothing productive while the gunman shot and killed children. Instead of entering the school, police are shown in bystander videos to be using crowd control methods like teargas and pepper spray on parents, as well as tackling the parents to prevent them from entering the school. So why start trying to atone for your mistakes now? Especially since y’all were supposed to be a member of the fraternity filled with—as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) described at this year’s National Rifle Association annual convention—the “armed good guys stopping armed bad guys.”

It’s horrific timing that both police departments—one with jurisdiction over the school district and its grounds and the other with jurisdiction over the city—chose to stop cooperating after state police kept having to correct the story, culminating in McCraw’s cutting comments. At one point on Wednesday, a UCISD police officer shot at the shooter before he made his way inside. By Thursday, DPS regional director Victor Escalon Jr. corrected the story: The gunman “walked in unobstructed.”

Then there was the conflicting number of minutes the gunman spent outside. First it was none at all. On Thursday, Escalon said the gunman spent 12 minutes outside after crashing the pickup truck near the school. By Friday, DPS again amended the story: Video footage suggested he spend all of five minutes outside before entering through an unlocked and propped open door.

There was also continued discrepancy on how the shooter was apprehended (was he barricaded or pinned down?), whether or not the gunman was wearing protective body armor (he wasn’t), and whether or not and when the police even entered the classrooms, let alone the actual building.

The Uvalde shooting is a failure of policing. Not cooperating with the review into decisions and protocols that led to this massive failure will only prolong the enviable disclosure of facts. There will be a disclosure of facts. The story of these slaughtered children is not going away.

The state-level investigation isn’t the only one examining the failures of police forces in this small Texas city: The Justice Department announced its own review on Sunday, heeding the call of Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin.

Jezebel reached out to Texas DPS, Uvalde police and the Uvalde CISD police for comment, and neither had responded as of publication.

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