KXAN Austin

Austin lawyer representing slain Uvalde child’s family

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austinites are continuing to call for change in the wake of the deadly mass shooting in Uvalde, as others in the small town are already taking some of those steps.

“Continued violence and inaction threatens our schools as places of learning, right, as places of development,” said Angela Valenzuela, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin’s College of Education.

She helped organize an Aztec healing ceremony as a member of Academia Cuauhtli, a cultural program for fourth and fifth graders in Austin.

The ceremony took place at the Mexican American Cultural Center on Sunday.

“The idea is through movement, to experience healing,” she said. “We are concerned with the victims of Uvalde and we are expressing, through this healing ceremony, our solidarity with the community.”

Some in Uvalde are already taking action; as families grieve the lives lost, more of them are setting their sights on getting some justice through the courts, and one of them is being represented by an Austin attorney.

On Friday, one school teacher who survived the mass shooting filed court documents against Daniel Defense, the gun maker that produced the AR-15 used shooter Salvador Ramos.

Emelia Marin filed a petition to depose Daniel Defense to obtain testimony and evidence related to things like the company’s sales practices, finances, marketing/advertising, and federal and state lobbying efforts.

“We’re trying to investigate, did they market to this person? Did they do something that caused him to want to buy the gun, when he just shouldn’t have? And that’s what we’re really concerned about,” Marin’s attorney told NBC News.

Victim Amerie Jo Garza’s dad has hired a team of lawyers, NBC reports, to also investigate Daniel Defense’s marketing strategies.

“Let’s take a look behind the curtain. What are y’all really doing and how extensive is it? Are you trying to get kids hooked on guns…and not just any gun, this is an AR-15,” said Jamal Alsaffar, a trial attorney in Austin.

Alsaffar said he’s representing another Uvalde family whose child died in the attack — they don’t want to go public just yet.

He said so far, the families who sued gunmaker Remington after the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting have been the only success case of their kind.

“In Connecticut, in Sandy Hook, they had a form of deceptive trade practices, a consumer law that related to marketing,” Alsaffar explained.

He said Texas has similar laws.

“Our state government, however, is not very friendly to consumers. They’re more friendly to the folks that are putting dangerous products out there unfortunately,” he said. “So, it’s a little harder in Texas, but it’s not impossible. And there’s certainly there’s a there’s a good faith legal basis for pursuing it, no doubt. I do think that’s true in Texas.”

He also said his clients may go against more than one group.

“There’s a lot of questions to be had and– about the law enforcement as well and the police as well, how they handled it. So this isn’t just about one gun manufacturer,” he said.

Alsaffar represented families after the Sutherland Springs church shooting that left 26 people dead. Those families sued the federal government for not doing more to prevent the attack.

In February of this year, the Department of Justice was ordered to pay more than $230 million to victims and families.

Alsaffar said going against law enforcement and government agencies is especially difficult because the standard of proof is higher, and they’re protected special immunity laws.

“But it’s not complete immunity,” he said. “It certainly depends on the facts and as far as what we’re learning so far… and I hate to say this, but the the the facts we’re learning about the law enforcement response are, are pretty egregious.”

Alsaffar said they want to take adequate time to make sure they get the full story about what happened at Robb Elementary on May 24 — especially because the narratives from law enforcement keep changing.

“We certainly want to take the time to make sure we get the full story but it seems like every time we learn a little more, it gets worse, not better,” Alsaffar said.

Alsaffar said the goal is to seek justice from anyone who could have prevented the mass shooting or made it less severe than it was.

“These families deserve to know the truth and in due time we hope to be able to do that,” Alsaffar said.