Harrowing Details Inside: Families Strike Historic Settlement After Tragic Uvalde School Shooting

By Greg Moriarty | Thursday, 23 May 2024 04:10 PM
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Image Credit : Photo by ABC News

In a significant development, nineteen families affected by the horrific mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, have announced a settlement with the city and county of Uvalde.

The tragedy, which unfolded at Robb Elementary School on May 24, 2022, claimed the lives of 19 students and two teachers, leaving a community in mourning and demanding accountability.

Veronica Luevanos, who lost her daughter, Jailah, and nephew, Jayce, in the massacre, expressed her anguish and relief in a statement. "For two long years, we have languished in pain and without any accountability from the law enforcement agencies and officers who allowed our families to be destroyed that day," she said. "This settlement reflects a first good faith effort, particularly by the City of Uvalde, to begin rebuilding trust in the systems that failed to protect us."

On the fateful day, officers from Uvalde police, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Texas Department of Public Safety were among those who responded to the scene. However, it took them a staggering 77 minutes to breach a classroom and neutralize the 18-year-old gunman.

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Josh Koskoff, an attorney representing the families, criticized the police response. "For 77 minutes, 26 members of the Uvalde Police Department failed to confront an 18-year-old kid armed with an AR-15, and no disciplinary action has ever been taken -- no firings, no demotions, no transparency -- and the families remain eager for that to change," he said. "But the healing process must begin, and the commitments made today by the City, in particular, are a step in that critical process."

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As part of the settlement, the families were involved in efforts to improve the Uvalde Police Department, including enhanced officer training and a new "fitness for duty" standard for officers. The settlement also mandates ways the city should support the community as residents heal, including establishing May 24 as an annual Day of Remembrance, creating a committee to design a permanent memorial funded by the city, and continuing to support mental health services.

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The city will pay a total of $2 million to the families from its insurance coverage. Additionally, the families agreed to accept the $2 million limit of the Uvalde County insurance policy, stating that pursuing more money could have plunged the city into bankruptcy, "something that none of the families were interested in as they look for the community to heal."

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In a further development, the families announced lawsuits against 92 Texas Department of Public Safety officers. The lawsuit alleges that the officers were trained to prioritize stopping the killing, then stopping the dying, then evacuating those hurt, but failed to do so.

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"Nearly 100 officers from the Texas Department of Public Safety have yet to face a shred of accountability for cowering in fear while my daughter and nephew bled to death in their classroom," Luevanos said.

The lawsuit also names the Uvalde School District and several of its employees as defendants, including the then-principal and then-school district police chief. The families argue that the school's lockdown protocols, which instructed teachers and children to turn off the lights, lock the door, and stay quiet, left them trapped and fully reliant on law enforcement to respond.

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