Former Uvalde prosecutor recalls inept law enforcement in wake of massacre

Sara Spector — a former Uvalde, Texas, prosecutor of five years who last worked in the city in 2017 — told Yahoo News that given her experience with local police, she doubts that the public will ever know the truth about what unfolded during the school massacre there on May 24. Spector, who currently serves as a criminal defense attorney in Midland, Texas, recalls a hostile environment fostered by law enforcement during her time there.

Video transcript

SARA SPECTOR: And I knew after the second press conference that there was a cover-up-- that something was wrong. I knew eight years ago. And that this was bringing up a lot of memories for me that I had forgotten.


My name is Sara Spector, and I am a former Uvalde prosecutor-- Uvalde district attorney. I am currently a criminal defense attorney in Midland, Texas. Uvalde is isolated community, very close-knit, Latino, for the most part, impoverished. There's very little resources as far as mental health or even medical.

Also, it's a very religious community-- mostly Catholic. The norm down there is for people to go to church twice a week. I know about probably maybe 25% of community maybe go to church every day.

They're patriotic. They love America. They love their law enforcement community.

BYRON PITTS: Another mass shooting, this time in Texas. At least 19 children murdered, shot dead with a high-powered rifle. Two teachers also killed-- an elementary school turned killing field.

- With the benefit of hindsight where I'm sitting now, of course it was not the right decision. It was the wrong decision. There's no excuse for that.

SARA SPECTOR: I was a prosecutor there for almost five years, and then I lived in that area. And I was a defense attorney for three years after that. That tweet was rather early-- it was before other people realized that they weren't going to cooperate or the truth or the light wasn't going to come out through the police department or other agencies.

They're not well paid, number one. Number two, they're not highly educated. What I found was the reports tended to be not very literate, not grammatically correct, not put together in a way that someone like a juror or a citizen would be able to understand what's going on, let alone me.

If I tried to offer advice or guidance, a lot of times it was left with skepticism, misogyny. If I ended up being correct in something that I may have criticized them for or try to correct, they would go into a complete world of maybe just denial that I would have even corrected them.

I knew from that point after the second news conference, before the third one, I knew that we were never going to get answers. There's going to be videos inside the school, there's going to be cameras from the police, from the sheriff, from the border patrol, from the FBI-- I really believe that's the only people that are going to shed light unless the feds take over the criminal part of this investigation, which they haven't yet.

But we're in cover-up mode right now. We're in complete cover-up mode. But the fact there's no explanation as to the radio silence by every single official, now we're up to the district attorney's office-- why would anything change now? Why?

I think the future of Uvalde-- this is just from my experience and, unfortunately, being a child abuse prosecutor and being in rural communities where tragedies happen-- the healing tends to be through the church, not too much through psychological counseling, or social workers, or anyone. I'm concerned as a child abuse prosecutor with tons of training about kids who have been through trauma, I'm concerned for those children.

I don't think churches, priests are normally adept at helping children get through crises. Children aren't very good at enunciating what is bothering them. Sometimes they don't know. Sometimes there's repressed feelings. Sometimes there are nightmares. Sometimes you have to do play therapy.

I really, really hope that somebody in law enforcement knocks on their doors and says, you can get through victim assistance some counseling. You can go to the children's crisis center, which is in Uvalde and Medina County. I'm heartbroken. And I feel guilt that I left my position.

I feel a lot of guilt that I'm not there to maybe make things better. But I don't think that I could have made a whole lot of difference anymore.

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