Uvalde, TX, city officials are using a legal loophole and several other broad exemptions in Texas to prevent the release of police records related to last month's school shooting that left 19 children and two teachers dead, according to a letter obtained by NPR in response to public information requests filed by member station Texas Public Radio.
The City of Uvalde has hired a private law firm to make its case, which cited the "dead suspect loophole," to deny the release of information because the gunman died in police custody. The legal exception bars the public disclosure of information pertaining to crimes in which no one has been convicted. The Texas Attorney General's Office has ruled that the exception applies when a suspect is dead.
The city and its police department are arguing against the release of the requested records, citing the following reasons: the city is being sued, some individuals' criminal history records could include "highly embarrassing information"; some of the information could reveal police "methods, techniques, and strategies for preventing and predicting crime," could cause "emotional/mental distress," "is not of legitimate concern to the public," could subject city employees or officers to "a substantial threat of physical harm," and violates individuals' common-law right to privacy. City officials have also refused to release more details, reasoning that it would interfere with the ongoing investigation by the Texas Department of Public Safety, Uvalde County's district attorney and the FBI.