Uvalde shooting parents ‘dumbfounded’ after report exonerates police officers


As It Happens6:57Uvalde shooting parents ‘dumbfounded’ after report exonerates police officers

Veronica Mata says she can’t understand how the police officers who stood in a school hallway for more than an hour while children and teachers were being slaughtered in a classroom could possibly have been doing their jobs by the book.

But that was the conclusion of a new municipal report released Thursday into the May 24, 2022, shooting at Robb Elementary School, in which a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers. 

“We don’t understand. Like, everybody knows what went on. Everybody was there,” Mata, whose 10-year-old daughter Tess was among those killed, told As It Happens host Nil Köksal.

“Everybody saw that these police officers stood there for 77 minutes and did nothing to protect our children. Nothing.”

The report’s author did not respond a request for comment.

Report critical of parents

The independent report by Jesse Prado, commissioned by the City of Uvalde in 2022, found a myriad of problems with the police response to the shooting.

Nearly 400 law enforcement agents, including Uvalde Police Department officers, rushed to the scene, but waited more than an hour to confront a teenage gunman armed with an AR-style rifle.

“There were problems all day long with communication and lack of it. The officers had no way of knowing what was being planned, what was being said,” Prado said Thursday while delivering the report. 

But Prado, an Austin-based investigator and former police detective, concluded that the Uvalde Police Department officers on the scene that day acted “in good faith” and in accordance with police policy.

A man in a suit and a cowboy hat frowns as he's followed by reporters.
Jesse Prado, centre, an Austin-based investigator, was pursued by the media after he shared his findings. (Eric Gay/The Associated Press)

He praised some of the officers for showing ‘”immeasurable strength” and “level-headed thinking” as they faced fire from the shooter and refrained from shooting into a darkened classroom.

Prado also said the families who rushed to the school hampered efforts to set up a chain of command as they had to conduct crowd control with parents, who were trying to get in the building or pleading with officers to go inside.

“At times they were difficult to control,” Prado said. “They were wanting to break through police barriers.”

The tone is in stark contrast to earlier reports.

A U.S. Justice Department report released in January detailed a series of “cascading failures of leadership, decision-making, tactics, policy, and training” that led to a “lack of urgency” in taking down the gunman.

A 2022 report by state lawmakers similarly found “egregiously poor decision-making” by law enforcement.

“I don’t understand how two totally different investigations can happen, and they have two totally different outcomes,” Mata said, adding that she and other parents are “dumbfounded.”

Parents erupt in anger

After Prado delivered his report on Thursday, he left the room, causing parents to erupt in anger, shouting “Bring him back!”

When he returned, the parents took turns giving him a piece of their minds.

“You said they did it in good faith. You call that good faith? They stood there 77 minutes,” said Kimberly Mata-Rubio, whose daughter was among those killed in the attack, after the presentation ended.

“My daughter was left for dead,” Ruben Zamorra said. “These police officers signed up to do a job. They didn’t do it.”

A woman with a long black ponytails stands at a podium speaking into a microphone while crying.
Kimberly Rubio, whose daughter Lexi was among 19 children killed in the massacre at Robb Elementary, speaks out at a special city council meeting in Uvalde, Texas, on Thursday after a report cleared local officers of wrongdoing. (Eric Gay/The Associated Press)

Mata, too, addressed Prado, who she says “wasn’t allowed to answer any of our questions.”

“I just felt like I needed him to understand that how dare he? Like, how dare he sit there and say that these police officers did nothing wrong?” Mata said. 

“He sat in his chair with his cowboy hat, stoic. Never said anything. Never flinched. Never batted an eye.”

Uvalde City Council member Hector Luevano said he was “embarrassed” and “insulted” by the city’s report.

“These families deserve more. This community deserves more,” Luevano said. “I don’t accept this report.”

At least five officers who were on the scene have lost their jobs, including two Department of Public Safety officers and the on-site commander, Pete Arredondo, the former school police chief. No officers have faced criminal charges.

The report only interviewed Uvalde officers who are still employed. 

A criminal investigation by Uvalde District Attorney Christina Mitchell’s office into the law enforcement response remains open. 

Fighting for her daughter and her students

Mata, meanwhile, says she hasn’t truly processed her grief for Tess, who she says loved sports and her older sister.

“I haven’t had the time. I’m fighting for her. I’m fighting for those children. And I’m fighting for those teachers that were in that classroom,” she said. “And I’m going to continue fighting for them until they get the justice that they deserve.”

A flat, black gravestone with an engraved image of a smiling little girl, a butterfly and cursive letters that read: "Tess Marie Mata/February 6, 2012 - May 23, 2022/ We love you to the moon and back. Love Always. Mom, Dad & Sissy. Two vases are built into the gravestone, and each is filled wright yellow, pink and purple plastic flowers. A pair of legs can be seen on a bench nearby.
‘She was just the light of our lives,’ Mata said of her daughter, Tess. ‘She’s tremendously missed.’ (Eric Gay/The Associated Press)

Mata is a Kindergarten teacher, and she says her students are what keep her going. 

“I see a little bit of Tess in every one of one of them,” she said. “These kids have a right to be able to go to school and not be afraid to walk into a classroom and feel like somebody’s going to come in and harm them.”


Source link


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here