UVALDE, Texas — The mayor of Uvalde is speaking out for the first time since the city filed a lawsuit against the Uvalde County District Attorney, Christina Mitchell.
According to court documents, the city is asking a judge to force Mitchell to hand over evidence related to the shooting at Robb Elementary. Uvalde leaders would not release the material, instead handing it to an independent expert reviewing city police officer's response to the tragedy.
Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin said city officials have been denied access to critical information.
“We got zero, squat, nothing. That’s wrong – I’m sorry, it is – and it’s not fair to these families,” said McLaughlin on Tuesday during a news conference at Uvalde City Hall.
Over 300 law enforcement officers responded to the school on May 24, and McLaughlin said other responding agencies, like the Texas Dept. of Public Safety, Border Patrol, and the Texas Rangers have all been given access to evidence like officer body cam video, audio recordings, and surveillance video from inside the school.
However, no one on the City of Uvalde payroll has been given access to any of it. McLaughlin said the city has been told “not to talk about it.”
Mitchell is conducting a criminal investigation into the response of law enforcement, and McLaughlin said the only person who would review the information, if released, is an independent investigator hired by the city to conduct an internal investigation into Uvalde PD’s response.
The lack of transparency, McLaughlin said, is stalling the city’s investigation into their own officers’ actions.
“We need answers so we can go through our police department and make changes. If we have officers that need to be held accountable, we need to know what their actions were that day,” said McLaughlin.
McLaughlin shared his frustration with the entire lack of communication with the Uvalde County District Attorney’s office, including the impact on the victims’ families, “blindsided time and time again,” according to McLaughlin.
“It’s not fair to these families,” said McLaughlin. “The district attorney, if nothing else, in my opinion, this is my opinion, not anybody else's, should have been meeting with those families at least once a week or every ten days just to give them an update on what's going on. And it hasn't happened.”
McLaughlin went on to express his frustration with the city’s investigation taking longer than expected due to the investigator needing the critical evidence to make a fair assessment.
The mayor said the purpose of the internal investigation is to look at what actions Uvalde officers took the of the shooting, and make changes if they find officers that need to be held accountable.
He goes on to say that overall the families, and the entire community need answers.
“There’s not an officer we have that I don’t have faith in. In my heart, I honestly believe, those officers, if they would have been told, if someone would have taken the leadership role and said, ‘let’s go in that classroom’, they would have gone, but no one gave them that order,” said McLaughlin.
“I’ve said it more than once, everybody that day has to be accountable for their actions,” said McLaughlin.
Since filing the lawsuit last week, McLaughlin said the city hasn’t received a response directly from Mitchell.
KENS 5 reached out to Mitchell’s office for a response, and are still waiting to hear back.