(WARNING: Disturbing Content)
(Video Credit: CNN)
Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin released all police bodycam footage taken during the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School to CNN showing the chaotic response by officers, noting he could be prosecuted for doing so.
CNN’s Shimon Prokupecz reported on the footage Sunday during the “CNN Newsroom” segment. According to reports, the acting police chief, Lt. Mariano Pargas, who was in charge that day, has now been put on leave and the mayor has tapped a former Austin police detective to conduct an internal investigation.
McLaughlin released the bodycam footage in response to the Austin American-Statesman publicizing surveillance video of officers failing to engage and take out the shooter who slaughtered 19 children and two teachers. They shockingly took 77 minutes to take down the killer.
A Texas House investigative committee released an interim report that found there were multiple “systemic failures” during the handling of the shooting by the police. There was massive confusion among approximately 400 officers from 20 law enforcement agencies who were on the scene. No stable command structure was apparently put in place as the Department of Homeland Security mandated.
(Video Credit: KXAN)
Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin says Lt. Pargas—Uvalde PD Acting Chief 6/24 was placed on administrative leave. During his leave an investigation by the city will look at if Lt. Pargas was responsible for taking command.
The mayor confirms UCISD Chief Arredondo remains on paid leave pic.twitter.com/Gdt1BYNki6
— Ali Bradley (@AliBradleyTV) July 18, 2022
McLaughlin was furious at the Statesman for releasing the video to the public showing police reaction during the shooting. He contends that it should have been released eventually for transparency, but is incensed that the victims’ families didn’t get to see it first and that the gunman’s face wasn’t blurred.
The new footage is comprised of recordings from multiple officers’ bodycams. It shows the police running into the school as the shooting took place.
“What you see here is a picture of officers really not in control,” Prokupecz explained to guest anchor Ryan Nobles.
The initial bodycam footage came from Uvalde Police Sergeant Daniel Coronado while he was running into the school. Gunshots rang out as officers took cover and Coronado mistakenly reported that the shooter was barricaded in a school office, not a classroom.
Another video from Officer Justin Mendoza showed police helping students climb out windows as they evacuated the school. Uvalde School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo is seen on the video “as other officers crowd around, looking for guidance.”
McLaughlin told CNN he felt it was “unfair to the investigation that the Statesman released the video because it only showed us one side of what was going on in that school.” He contended releasing the bodycam footage was necessary “out of transparency” and “fairness.”
Media: @ShimonPro has been provided by #Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin with previously unreleased body-cam video from the incident. "The district atty., the investigators here, have been holding this video back. The mayor felt that out of transparency, this needed to be released." pic.twitter.com/xRSoOa6qUy
— Porter Anderson (@Porter_Anderson) July 17, 2022
Prokupecz reported that the mayor “potentially faces some kind of consequences for doing this, but he says he doesn’t care. He’s even been afraid that perhaps a district attorney could prosecute him if he was to release this information. But he feels that in fairness to the families and fairness to this investigation that it needed to be released.”
CNN asserted that they didn’t air the video “until we knew that family members had been made aware that this video existed and that the mayor said that he would be releasing it.”
Prokupecz stated that it “shows the police response and just how terrible it was how some of the decision-making was, very confusing.”
“You had officers outside who really didn’t know what was going on inside. There was no command structure. There was no one making decisions. And it was kind of a free for all,” the CNN reporter concluded.
CNN says it has been asking for the video for some time and the mayor “finally” agreed to release it “for transparency reasons.”
“It’s difficult to watch certainly,” Prokupecz remarked, but it gives “another perspective of what happened here, and it’s a very important perspective.”
A reporter asked the mayor about the claims that Uvalde law enforcement attempted to manipulate the narrative around the shooting, McLaughlin responded that Steven McCraw, the head of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), was the one who should be answering those questions.
Kids and teachers were murdered in their classrooms.
“We’re tired of the bullshit leaks!” https://t.co/0h47HkaxwI
— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) July 17, 2022
“Why don’t you see Colonel McCraw and ask him,” McLaughlin snapped.
“Why don’t you go see the Chief of Staff for the Governor and ask him, face to face? And then ask Colonel McCraw and the other DPS officer what the meeting was about. The meeting was about Colonel McCraw,” McLaughlin said, referring to a meeting he said he called with the head of Texas DPS and the state governor following the attack.
“We didn’t ask him to change the narrative, we didn’t ask him to support the narrative or anything,” the mayor claimed.
“We’re tired of the bull**** leaks, we’re tired of the bull**** stories, and we’re tired that you say no law enforcement officer cooperated,” McLaughlin raged, calling any such claim “a lie.”
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