As video from Robb Elementary School puts in full view the bewildering inaction by law enforcement during the May slaughter of 19 children and two teachers, some in Uvalde are shouting: Will police face consequences? Only one officer from the scene of the deadliest school shooting in Texas history is known to be on leave. Authorities have not released names of officers who for more than an hour milled in and out of a hallway near the adjoining fourth-grade classrooms where the gunman was firing. Nearly two months after the massacre, there’s still disagreement about who was in charge, the Associated Press reports. A nearly 80-minute surveillance video published by the Austin American-Statesman showed for the first time — with disturbing and painful clarity — a hesitant and haphazard tactical response by fully armed officers that the head of Texas’ state police condemned as a failure and some Uvalde residents have blasted as cowardly. I is unclear whether the actions — or inaction — by officers will result in more than criticism, even as demands for accountability and anger mount. City and state leaders have urged people to let investigations play out.
There are signs impatience is growing: Hours after the video was published, residents shouted from their seats at a City Council meeting Tuesday, demanding to know whether officers who were at the shooting were still on the force or getting paid. Council members did not respond. “What about the cops?” one person yelled. Police are afforded formidable legal protections with the idea that their jobs often require life-and-death judgment calls under great pressure. Even with the officers’ hesitation captured on video, policing experts say it’s difficult to predict how likely they are to face discipline or legal fallout. It is a starkly different scene from the one described by Gov. Greg Abbott after the shooting, when he praised a swift response and officers who “showed amazing courage by running toward gunfire.” Abbott later said he was given wrong information.