Uvalde School Shooting Victims’ Families Sue Texas Police Over Failed Response


AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Families of 19 Uvalde elementary school shooting victims announced a lawsuit on Wednesday against nearly 100 state police officers involved in the flawed law enforcement response.

The families stated they also reached a $2 million settlement with the city, wherein city leaders committed to improved standards and training for local police.

This announcement precedes the two-year anniversary of one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history. Nineteen fourth-graders and two teachers died on May 24, 2022, when a teenage gunman entered their classroom at Robb Elementary School and started shooting.

The lawsuit is the latest among several seeking accountability for the law enforcement’s response. Over 370 officers from federal, state, and local agencies arrived at the scene but waited over 70 minutes before engaging the shooter.

It is the first lawsuit following a 600-page Justice Department report released in January, detailing “cascading failures” in training, communication, leadership, and technology on that day.

The lawsuit indicates that state troopers failed to adhere to their active shooter training and responsibilities, while students and teachers were following lockdown protocols by turning off lights, locking doors, and staying silent.

“The protocols trap teachers and students inside, leaving them fully reliant on law enforcement to respond quickly and effectively,” the families and their attorneys said in a statement.

Terrified students inside the classroom called 911 as desperate parents begged officers—some of whom could hear shots being fired from the hallway—to intervene. Eventually, a tactical team entered the classroom and killed the shooter.

“Law enforcement’s inaction that day was a complete and absolute betrayal of these families and the sons, daughters, and mothers they lost,” said Erin Rogiers, one of the families’ attorneys. “TXDPS had the resources, training, and firepower to respond appropriately, and they ignored all of it and failed on every level. These families have not only the right but also the responsibility to demand justice.”

A criminal investigation into the police response by Uvalde District Attorney Christina Mitchell’s office is ongoing. A grand jury convened this year, with some law enforcement officials already testifying.

The lawsuit targets 92 Texas Department of Public Safety officials and troopers, the Uvalde School District, former Robb Elementary Principal Mandy Gutierrez, and former Uvalde schools police Chief Peter Arredondo as defendants.

Another lawsuit filed in December 2022 against local and state police, the city, and other school and law enforcement entities, seeks at least $27 billion and class-action status for survivors. Additionally, at least two lawsuits have been filed against Georgia-based gun manufacturer Daniel Defense, which produced the AR-style rifle used by the gunman.

The $2 million settlement was capped because the families did not want to bankrupt the city where they still reside and wished to allow the community to heal. The settlement will be paid from the city’s insurance coverage.

Under the settlement, the city agreed to new “fitness for duty” standards and enhanced training for Uvalde police officers. It also establishes May 24 as an annual day of remembrance, a permanent memorial in the city plaza, and mental health support services for the families and the broader Uvalde community.

The police response to the mass shooting has been scrutinized by state and federal authorities. A 600-page Justice Department report in January detailed “cascading failures” in training, communication, leadership, and technology on that day.

Another report commissioned by the city highlighted law enforcement’s missteps but defended local police actions, sparking anger among victims’ families.

“For two long years, we have suffered in pain without any accountability from the law enforcement agencies and officers who allowed our families to be destroyed that day,” said Veronica Luevanos, whose daughter Jailah and nephew Jayce were killed. “This settlement marks a first good faith effort, particularly by the City of Uvalde, to begin rebuilding trust in the systems that failed to protect us.”

Associated Press
Associated Press
The Associated Press is an American not-for-profit news agency headquartered in New York City.

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