City Inquiry: Uvalde Officers Made Mistakes, but Did Not Violate Policy

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An investigator for the city of Uvalde said on Thursday that despite the many documented failures of more than 20 city police officers who were among those responding to the shooting at Robb Elementary School in 2022, no punishment was warranted because the officers acted in good faith and did not violate department policy.

During a special meeting convened to reveal results of a two-year investigation, the investigator, Jesse Prado, a retired detective from Austin, also advised that the acting police chief at the time, Lt. Mariano Pargas Jr., be cleared of any wrongdoing. Mr. Pargas, who was running the force that day while the chief was on vacation, had resigned amid a storm of criticism from city residents.

“There were many failures,” Mr. Prado said, but he added that “there was no evidence of serious acts of misconduct in direct violation of the Uvalde Police Department’s policies.”

At the conclusion of his 45-minute presentation, Mr. Prado walked away, drawing the ire of relatives of the victims who had shown up to express their outrage. The families have continued to demand transparency and accountability for a lengthy delay in confronting the gunman.

“It was for their safety; it was not for the safety of children,” Kim Mata-Rubio, whose daughter Lexi was among the children who were killed, shouted from the meeting room about the police officers. “Are these the people that you want responding to your loved ones? Guaranteed, it’s not.”

She added: “Do what’s right. Terminate them.”

The shooting occurred on May 24, 2022, when a teenage gunman climbed a low fence and entered the school through what turned out to be an unlocked door. Armed with an AR-15-style rifle, he unleashed a barrage of bullets on two connected classrooms, killing 19 children, two teachers and injuring 17 other people. More than 370 officers from local, state and federal agencies gathered at the scene but after initially being shot at, the officers did not make an attempt to confront the gunman until later.

The city findings, included in a report released on Thursday, are the third major investigation into the delayed police response. Two previous probes by a state committee and the Department of Justice both agreed that a perfect storm of failures in leadership, wrong decision-making and lack of police training led the officers to wait 77 minutes to confront the gunman holed up in two connected classrooms.

Other key investigations are pending. The local district attorney, Christina Mitchell, has convened a grand jury that is hearing testimony to determine whether criminal charges should be brought against any of the officers. The Texas Department of Public Safety has yet to release its findings.



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