Uvalde Police Agree to Testify Amid Increased Attempts to Withhold Records

A Texas state lawmaker leading an investigation into the massacre at an elementary school in Uvalde says police will cooperate with the probe as city officials have reportedly sought to block the release of records.

Republican state Representative Dustin Burrows said on Friday that the Uvalde Police Department will send representatives to testify before a legislative panel probing law enforcement's response to the deadly May 24 school shooting. The willingness of Uvalde's police to cooperate with the probe follows blistering criticism of law enforcement's response to the shooting and reports of local officials stonewalling requests for information.

Burrows, speaking at the end of the committee's meeting Friday, said the city of Uvalde and its police department had agreed to send witnesses after earlier resisting, according to a video posted online by San Antonio CBS affiliate KENS 5.

"Took a little bit longer than we initially had expected," he said. "But those conversations did develop through the day, and so they are going to be cooperating with that."

Police in Uvalde
Uvalde's police department has agreed to participate in a state probe of the mass shooting at an elementary school after indicating earlier they may stonewall it. Above, law enforcement are seen parked outside the joint funeral service for Irma Garcia, a teacher killed in the shooting, and her husband Joe Garcia on June 1, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas. Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Burrows did not name who would be appearing before the committee, but added it would reconvene on Monday with a list of who would be heard from.

A day earlier, he expressed frustration that the Uvalde Police Department signaled it may not participate with the probe.

"I do not understand why Uvalde PD, who routinely questions witnesses itself, would not want the same," he said in a tweet.

Local police in the small town located 80 miles west of San Antonio have been panned for their delayed response to the school shooting that left 19 children and two teachers dead.

Videos have emerged showing police delaying their response while the shooter continued his rampage, which have drawn harsh criticism from other law enforcement experts. Uvalde police have also given shifting accounts of the shooting.

The city of Uvalde and its police department have seen records requests from members of the media and others seeking answers about the response to the shooting. However, the city has hired a private law firm to help block the release of body camera footage, photos, 911 calls, emails and other records related to the shooting, Motherboard reported Friday.

"The City has not voluntarily released any information to a member of the public," Cynthia Trevino, who works for the private law firm Denton Navarro Rocha Bernal & Zech and represents the city, wrote in a letter to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, reports Motherboard.

The letter states the records could include "highly embarrassing information," and the city is seeking an exemption from releasing a range of requested materials, according to Motherboard.

The Associated Press earlier reported Texas officials were seeking to use a "loophole" to block records from being released, even to victims' families.

Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin on Tuesday issued a statement saying the city and its police "strive for transparency every day."

"The Uvalde County District Attorney has requested the city to not release any City records related to the Robb Elementary School investigation," McLaughlin said in the statement. "The District Attorney told us the material is still being reviewed and her investigation is ongoing. When all investigations and reviews are complete, the city will evaluate release of City records."

Newsweek reached out to Burrows' office and the local district attorney for comment.