Texas officials block release of Uvalde body cam footage

Crime scene tape surrounds Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Wednesday, May 25, 2022. Desperation turned to heart-wrenching sorrow for families of grade schoolers killed after an 18-year-old gunman barricaded himself in their Texas classroom and began shooting, killing at least 19 fourth-graders and their two teachers. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

(NewsNation) — Police body camera footage taken during and after the massacre at Robb Elementary School will not be released, as officials say it could help future criminals pull off similar attacks.

Members of the media and public have pressed for body cam footage to be released of the day of the shooting, in which 21 people including 19 children were killed, specifically of the 77 minutes between when police arrived on the scene and when they ultimately killed the shooter.

That body cam footage will not be released, at least for the time being, as officials in Texas say the footage could give criminals “invaluable information” on how police conduct investigations into shootings like this one.

“Knowing the intelligence and response capabilities of department personnel and where those employees focus their attention will compromise law enforcement capabilities (by helping) criminals to anticipate weakness in law enforcement procedures and alter their methods of operation in order to avoid detection and apprehension,” officials said in a statement.

Police waited in a hallway for 45 minutes inside the school, while the shooter was locked inside and children called 911 from inside the classroom, pleading to be saved.

Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin said Uvalde and the Uvalde Police Department “strive for transparency every day” in his statement denying the release of body cam footage.

Police walk near Robb Elementary School following a shooting, Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

Retired police Chief Jeff Halstead from Fort Worth, Texas, said the only reason he could imagine for the body cam footage not being released is there maybe were tactical advancements made by police they do not want released to the public.

“The challenge is you can never release information that would be sacrificing officer safety on future deployments, especially SWAT teams,” Halstead said Tuesday on NewsNation’s “Dan Abrams Live.” “However, body cam technology and the editing capabilities of redacting and blurring and digitizing a lot of this information makes it almost like you can’t even understand what the movements are perceived to be.”

On the other hand, Halstead said in cases like the Robb Elementary shooting, which are likely to result in lawsuits being brought down on a police department, are generally less likely to have footage readily released because city and department lawyers will do everything they can to shield the department from damning revelations.

“We’re seeing that if there is litigation, or potential litigation, they want to put the brakes on a lot of these public records release, when in fact you can get some of this information out there without jeopardizing officer safety,” Halstead said.

Halstead said the officials’ argument that releasing the body cam footage of the scene would provide a blueprint to future criminals “for that location, and that location only.”

“It’s kind of a broad base reasoning they’re giving for this, but like I said, from my experience, it is trying to get this narrative to just dissolve for awhile,” Halstead said.


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