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Family Members of Uvalde School Shooting Victims File Suit Against State Police Officers

Family members of 19 victims of the 2022 shooting an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, have filed suit against 92 Texas Department of Public Safety officers who were among the hundreds of law enforcement personnel who waited 77 minutes to confront the 18-year-old gunman who ultimately killed 19 students and two teachers in a pair of adjoining classrooms.

The relatives — family members of 17 children who were killed and two who were injured — are also suing Mandy Gutierrez, who was principal of Robb Elementary School at the time, and Pete Arredondo, who was the school district police chief, the Texas Tribune reported.

“Nearly 100 officers from the Texas Department of Public Safety have yet to face a shred of accountability for cowering in fear while my daughter and nephew bled to death in their classroom,” Veronica Luevanos, whose daughter Jailah and nephew Jayce were killed, said in a statement.

Attorneys for the families said at a news conference on Wednesday that the cify of Uvalde is paying them $2 million to avoid a lawsuit. The city also pledged to provide improved training for all current and future officers and set aside May 24 as an annual day of remembrance. The city will also work with family members to design a memorial for the city plaza.

An attorney for the families, Josh Koskoff, blasted the state for its failure to provide smaller communities with what they need.

“You think the city of Uvalde has enough money, or training, or resources? You think they can hire the best of the best?” he said. “As far as the state of Texas is concerned, it sounds like their position is: You’re on your own.”

Koshkoff addressed the idea of qualified immunity, in which government officials and law enforcement can be shielded from being held responsible in lawsuits.

The Tribune said that some Texas legislators tried to pass several pieces of legislation in the aftermath of the shooting, including one that would have ended qualified immunity. All of those bills failed.

Koshkoff pointed out that 376 law enforcement agents responded to the shooting in Uvalde, vastly outnumbering the single shooter.

Multiple reports, including by the state Department of Public Safety, a state legislative committee and the US Department of Justice, have found “systemic failures and egregious poor decision making” in the response to the shooting. But few have faced accountability. DPS has fired two officers but has pointed most of its fingers at local law enforcement.

A report commissioned by the city of Uvalde cleared local officers of any wrongdoing, drawing sharp anger from families of victims. Five local officers, including Arredondo, were fired before the report was released, however.

A grand jury was convened earlier this year to look at the response, but no indictments have been returned so far.