Texas has a ‘dead suspect loophole’ that could hide evidence in Uvalde massacre: report
Catholic faithful attend a Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Uvalde Texas, one day after a gunman opened fire at Robb Elementary school (Allison Dinner AFP)

The state of Texas has a unique law that could prevent the public from learning the details of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.

The 1997 law was explained by Tony Plohetski, an investigative reporter for the Austin Statesman newspaper.

"Public release of videos, 911 calls and other evidence from the Uvalde shooting could provide the most accurate account of that terrible day, but there are obstacles that we Texas journalists often call the 'dead suspect loophole' that could get in the way," he explained in a thread posted to Twitter.

"Under state law, police agencies may hide an investigative file unless a person is convicted. Over the years, journalists have revealed cases where — stunningly — families could not learn circumstances of a loved one dying in police custody because he was never convicted," he explained.

"The law leaves the decision to release to the police. At times, I've been able to convince them to release information, as was the case in 2020 with reporting Javier Ambler II's death. More often, agencies cite this provision as a reason to withhold evidence from the public," he warned. "We do not yet know how police will respond to requests for information from dozens of media outlets in Texas and nationally seeking information in Uvalde. We can only hope they will be transparent — and that our lawmakers will pass legislation that will end this loophole."

The "dead suspect loophole" came up when Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen was murdered in 2020. The "dead suspect loophole" also came up when police killed Carlos High in 2018.

A 2018 investigation by Reason magazine found 81 cases between 2003 and 2018 where police invoked the "dead suspect loophole."

An investigation by KXAN-TV of the 21 largest police departments in Texas found the law invoked in 154 public information requests over 52 in-custody deaths.

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