Court Battles

Uvalde survivors file $27B class action lawsuit against law enforcement agencies

AP Photo/Eric Gay
Reggie Daniels pays his respects at a memorial at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on June 9, 2022, honoring the two teachers and 19 students killed in the shooting at the school on May 24. For families fractured along red house-blue house lines, summer’s slate of reunions and weddings poses another round of tension. Pandemic restrictions have melted away but gun control, the fight for reproductive rights, the Jan. 6 insurrection hearings, who’s to blame for soaring inflation and a range of other issues continue to simmer.

Nearly three dozen survivors of the May massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, filed a class action suit against various law enforcement agencies on Tuesday, seeking $27 billion in damages.

The lawsuit scorches law enforcement’s response to the tragedy, arguing that agencies “fundamentally strayed” from protocols as 19 children and two teachers were shot and killed in what became the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.

They also blamed the agencies for emotional and psychological damage for survivors and alleged violation of their rights under the 14th Amendment, which says states shall not deprive any person of life without due process, and guarantees equal protection under the law.

The plaintiffs — which include students, teachers, staff and parents who were present at the school during the shooting — also asked a federal trial judge to require the city of Uvalde and the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District to take a series of steps to comply with city, state and federal active shooter regulations.

Criticism of law enforcement’s handling of the tragedy escalated dramatically after it was revealed that hundreds of officers were in the school but waited 77 minutes before breaching the classroom, where the gunman remained inside with children.

“In total, three hundred and seventy-six law enforcement were on hand and not one complied with the absolutely mandatory requirement that they immediately distract, isolate and neutralize the active shooter,” the suit states.

The suit names as defendants the city, Uvalde school district, both of their police departments, multiple current and former employees from those agencies and Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) officials.

“The City has not been served and does not comment on pending litigation,” it said in a statement on Friday.

The Hill has reached out to the Uvalde school district and DPS for comment.

The suit argues that “no amount of money nor forgiveness can ever absolve” how law enforcement responded to the shooting, but argued the redress is necessary for the plaintiffs’ lasting trauma.

As one example, attorneys detailed how one student plaintiff, referred to as J.P. because he is a minor, has refused to leave his house or his parents’ side since the shooting. 

J.P watched his teacher, who ultimately survived, “endure close to seventy minutes of agony” upon being shot before law enforcement aided her, and the student now obsessively draws the window blinds in his house, locks doors and sleeps in his parent’s room, according to the complaint.

“Although the expressions vary, such emotional and physical manifestations have rampantly expressed themselves throughout the daily lives of each Plaintiff and class member, significantly plaguing and obsessing them, as well as the entirety of the Uvalde community,” the complaint alleges.

Updated Friday at 1:53 p.m.

Tags uvalde Uvalde shooting

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