Uvalde families reach settlement, can start the process of rebuilding trust

Nineteen families, whose loved ones were killed or injured in the Uvalde, Texas mass shooting, have recently announced that they have reached a settlement with the city and county of Uvalde.

Veronica Luevanos expressed her frustration over the lack of accountability from law enforcement agencies and officers responsible for the tragic loss of her daughter, Jailah, and nephew, Jayce. After enduring two years of pain, she welcomed the recent settlement as a promising step towards rebuilding trust in the systems that failed to protect them. In her statement on Wednesday, she acknowledged the City of Uvalde’s efforts to make a good faith attempt at addressing the issue.

Families are nearing the two-year anniversary of the tragic May 24, 2022, shooting at Robb Elementary School. During this horrific event, an 18-year-old gunman took the lives of 19 students and two teachers. As this somber milestone approaches, a settlement has been reached.

When the gunfire erupted on that day, officers from Uvalde police, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Texas Department of Public Safety were among the first responders at Robb Elementary. However, it took them approximately 77 minutes to enter a classroom and neutralize the gunman.

Josh Koskoff, the families’ attorney, expressed his disappointment in the lack of action taken by the Uvalde Police Department. He highlighted that for a duration of 77 minutes, 26 police officers failed to confront an 18-year-old armed with an AR-15. According to him, no disciplinary measures have been implemented, including firings or demotions, and there has been a lack of transparency. Despite this, he acknowledged the importance of starting the healing process and appreciated the commitments made by the City as a significant step in that direction.

The families, as part of the settlement with the city and county, actively participated in the initiatives aimed at enhancing the Uvalde Police Department. Their involvement led to significant improvements, including enhanced officer training and the implementation of a new “fitness for duty” standard for officers.

The families have stated that the settlement includes provisions for the city to assist the community in its healing process. This includes establishing May 24 as an annual Day of Remembrance, forming a committee to develop a permanent memorial funded by the city, and ensuring ongoing support for mental health services.

Speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, Javier Cazares, whose 9-year-old daughter, Jackie, was tragically killed, emphasized the importance of justice and accountability. He expressed his disappointment in past failures and called for action, stating that “the time has come to do the right thing.”

The families will receive a total of $2 million from the city’s insurance coverage. The decision to settle for this amount was made to prevent the city from going bankrupt, which none of the families wanted as they were focused on healing the community.

According to Koskoff, the families of the victims have a strong attachment to their community and wish to remain there. He emphasizes that members of law enforcement should not feel the need to avoid eye contact with them, even if they are wearing a badge.

“We are eternally thankful to the families of the victims for collaborating with us throughout the past year to foster a sense of healing within the community. This approach serves as a heartfelt tribute to the lives and legacies of those we tragically lost,” expressed the city in a statement.

On Wednesday, the families also revealed their intention to file lawsuits against 92 Texas Department of Public Safety officers. According to the legal action taken, it was alleged that these officers were trained with a priority of halting the act of killing, followed by halting further harm, and finally evacuating those who were injured.

Luevanos expressed her frustration and disappointment that almost 100 officers from the Texas Department of Public Safety have not faced any consequences for their actions. She highlighted the fact that these officers failed to take action and protect her daughter and nephew, who tragically lost their lives while the officers remained paralyzed by fear in their classroom.

The Uvalde School District and several of its employees, including the former principal and former school district police chief, are named as defendants in the lawsuit.

According to the families, the school’s lockdown protocols left teachers and children trapped inside, relying solely on law enforcement to respond. The protocols required them to turn off the lights, lock the door, and remain quiet.

According to Koskoff, the families are also intending to file a lawsuit against the federal government. He pointed out that there were more than 150 federal officers present at the school, who remained idle until at least 77 minutes had passed before entering the room.

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MBS Staff
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