UVALDE, Texas (KXAN) — Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin issued a press release Sunday, in which he announced the selection of former Austin Police Department detective Jesse Prado to conduct an internal investigation of the Uvalde Police Department’s actions during the shooting.
Prado was a detective with APD’s Organized Crime Unit until he retired in 2013.
The mayor’s release is in response to the report released by the Texas House Investigative Committee’s findings on the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School, which was also issued Sunday. The release notes that the city’s investigation will only start once Texas DPS releases the official statements made by UPD officers in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.
The investigation will also review the actions of Lt. Mariano Pargas, who was the UPD Acting Chief of Police during the incident. Pargas has been placed on administrative leave until the investigation’s conclusion, per McLaughlin’s release.
“This administrative leave is to investigate whether Lt. Pargas was responsible for taking command on May 24th, what specific actions Lt. Pargas took to establish that command, and whether it was even feasible given all the agencies involved and other possible policy violations,” the release states.
The city also said that they would release UPD body camera footage Sunday. The release notes that the released footage has been edited “to protect the victims.”
“However, with the release of the school district’s hallway video, we believe these body camera videos provide further, necessary context,” the release states.
Additionally, the mayor notes that the city held off on releasing videos at the direction of District Attorney Christina Mitchell.
In a press conference Sunday, McLaughlin said he has been directed not to talk to any Uvalde police officers amid ongoing investigations. During his presser, McLaughlin sharply criticized claims local law enforcement officials have tried to manipulate the narrative, adding the current investigation is the “worst professionally run investigation” he has seen.
He condemned shifting statements released by members of the Texas Department of Public Safety and other state officials who have said local law enforcement personnel have not been cooperative.
“We did not try to manipulate anything, and that’s a fact,” he said.
He added he has not been in contact with Gov. Greg Abbott — who publicly criticized the release of conflicting information from the shooting that differed from day-of reports — in four weeks.
As for Pargas’ administrative leave, McLaughlin said he didn’t have any information as to whether it’s paid leave and added it was a decision made by the police chief and city manager.
As for frustrations from the victims’ families, he said he will continue to work to receive more verified information. He said if community members don’t think he’s fighting for them, they can have his resignation and he’d be happy to step aside.
“My heart’s broken for them,” he said. “But I’ll never feel the pain that they’re feeling.”