Monday, April 15, 2024

Uvalde shooting: Families of victims angry as outside investigator says officers not at fault

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An investigator named Jesse Prado, who looked into how the police responded to the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, in May 2022, shared his findings at a city council meeting. The report, presented last Thursday, cleared local officers of any wrongdoing, upsetting many families who lost loved ones in the attack. Despite acknowledging failures in law enforcement’s response, Prado did not point fingers at specific officers or hold them accountable.

Some parents, like Veronica Mata, whose daughter Tess died in the incident, expressed frustration. They argued that the officers didn’t act appropriately, taking too long to respond to calls reporting that children were still in danger. The meeting turned heated, with emotions running high as families demanded accountability for the tragic events.

Prado’s 182-page report defended the actions of local police, stating they acted in good faith. Even though there were acknowledged failures, specific officers were not named for not fulfilling their duties on that day. The highest-ranking officer, Lt. Javier Martinez, and Staff Sgt. Eduardo Canales were among those cleared of any wrongdoing.

Despite Prado’s conclusions, some city council members, like Ernest “Chip” W. King III, expressed disappointment, stating that the report was not what they expected. Families, such as Kimberly Mata-Rubio, who lost her daughter Lexi, questioned if these were the people they wanted responding to emergencies involving their loved ones.

The meeting highlighted the ongoing dissatisfaction among the families seeking justice for the victims. Prado mentioned that a tactical commander, Paul Guerrero, made a decision that delayed officers from entering the classroom sooner. Guerrero stopped the move, fearing it would take too long to open the locked door, according to Prado.

This contradicted an earlier report from the Texas House, which stated that a rifle-rated shield had been delivered on time. The disagreement over the timeline raised questions about the law enforcement response to the tragic incident.

Prado mentioned challenges in gathering evidence, citing resistance from the local prosecutor, which added to the frustration of families seeking answers. The independent investigation by the city council was one of several probes into the flawed law enforcement response to the school shooting.

The meeting occurred as the second anniversary of the incident approached, and families continued their quest for accountability. Recent elections further upset families, as leaders criticized for their failures in handling the school shooting were supported to continue in their law enforcement roles. The lack of transparency in the investigations, including the withholding of information by the district attorney, Christina Mitchell, fueled concerns of a cover-up.

In summary, the city council meeting left many families dissatisfied with the investigator’s findings, further deepening the unresolved issues surrounding the tragic events in Uvalde.

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