HomeWorldUvalde Video Raises More Calls for Police Accountability

Uvalde Video Raises More Calls for Police Accountability


By ACACIA CORONADO, PAUL J. WEBER and JAKE BLEIBERG, Associated Press

UVALDE, Texas (AP) — As video taken inside Robb Elementary School shows the shocking inaction of law enforcement during the massacre of 19 children and two teachers in May, some in Uvalde are shouting: Will the police face consequences?

Only one officer from the scene of the deadliest school shooting in Texas history is known to be on leave. Authorities have not yet released the names of the officers who for more than an hour walked in and out of a hallway near the adjoining fourth-grade classrooms where the gunman was shooting. And nearly two months after the massacre, there is still disagreement over who was in charge.

A nearly 80-minute hallway surveillance video released by the Austin American-Statesman publicly showed for the first time, with haunting and painful clarity, a hesitant and haphazard tactical response by fully armed officers that the Austin state police chief Texas has condemned it as a failure and some residents of Uvalde have called it a coward.

But it’s unclear whether the actions, or inaction, of officers at the school on May 24 will result in more than criticism, even as demands for accountability and anger mount. City and state leaders have urged people to let the investigations take place.

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There are signs that impatience is growing: Hours after the video was released, residents yelled from their seats at a City Council meeting Tuesday, demanding to know if the officers who were on the shooting were still on the force or paid. . Council members did not respond.

“What about the police?” one person yelled.

The police have formidable legal protections, established with the understanding that their jobs often require life-and-death trials under great pressure. Even with officers’ hesitation captured on video, law enforcement experts say it’s hard to predict the likelihood they’ll face disciplinary action or legal consequences.

“It will all come down to what a reasonable police officer would have perceived at the time,” said Philip Stinson, a criminologist at Bowling Green State University.

Footage from a hallway camera inside the school shows the gunman entering the building with an AR-15-style rifle and includes 911 tape of a teacher yelling, “Get down! Come into your rooms! Come into your rooms!

Two officers approach the classrooms minutes after the gunman enters, then run back amid the sound of gunfire. From there, minutes tick by and more shots are heard from the classrooms as more officers from various agencies arrive. More than an hour passes before a team finally advances down the hallway, storms the classrooms, and puts an end to the massacre.

More than a dozen officers, some armed with rifles and bulletproof shields, are visible at points in the video. During the long wait to confront the gunman, a man in a bulletproof vest and a vest that says “sheriff” squeezes out a few drops of hand sanitizer from a wall-mounted dispenser.

It’s a completely different scene from the one described by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott the day after the shooting, when he praised a quick response and officers who “showed amazing courage in running toward the gunfire.” Abbott later said that he was given incorrect information, but did not identify from whom.

That is just one example of inaccurate and contradictory statements given by authorities in the seven weeks after the shooting. Asked Wednesday whether any officers should face disciplinary action for his inaction, Abbott spokeswoman Renae Eze said the governor “believes it would be premature to take any action” until investigations are complete.

After the 2018 Parkland High School shooting in Florida that killed 17 people, an officer who knew the gunman was on the loose but refused to enter was arrested on criminal charges. Legal experts have said it is an extremely rare case of someone who has essentially been charged for not putting themselves in harm’s way and have expressed skepticism about the case, which is scheduled for trial in February.

Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin said it was too early to decide if any officers should be removed from the force. “I don’t know if they need to resign,” he said. “But everything needs to be reviewed.”

So far, officials have only publicly confirmed one licensed officer: Pete Arredondo, the police chief of the Uvalde school district, who also resigned from his newly won City Council seat last month. He has disputed the state police’s characterization that he was in charge of the scene.

A spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety said none of the soldiers who were there have been suspended. Officials from the Uvalde police and sheriff’s office did not respond to questions about whether any of their officers had been suspended or placed on leave.

Greg Shaffer, a Dallas-based security consultant and retired member of the FBI’s hostage rescue team, said that, at a minimum, the officers in the video should switch to a different line of work.

“I think everyone in that hallway should reconsider their career choice,” he said. “If you don’t have the courage and the mindset to run towards the gunshots, as a police officer, then you are in the wrong profession.”

Weber reported from Austin, Texas, and Bleiberg reported from Dallas.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



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