More than four months after nine people were killed in the biker shootout at a Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, the details of who did what to who and why remain as murky as ever.
Of 170 (per the Dallas Morning News, 177 from other news sources) bikers arrested, all are now out of jail and none have been charged with murder.
As far as I can tell, ballistics reports for the shooting have never been released, and a gag order on all attorneys involved in the case remains in place, and restaurant surveillance video of the shootout has never been released to the public.
Something isn’t adding up here.
We know that at least some of the bikers involved were hit by police bullets. In a piece by Nathaniel Penn in GQ, he suggests that the vast majority of deaths from the shootout came from law enforcement.
Now, the first two or three pops—me and half my crew being ex-military, we know what small-arms fire from pistols sounds like. We also know what squad automatic weapons [typically used by the military and law enforcement] sound like. After the third pop, it was nothing but squad automatic weapons.
Not a single law-enforcement person lifted a finger to help any of the wounded. And they made it pretty clear that they were going to be violent if we tried to take our guys to the ambulance. Three men were bleeding out before our eyes. If those men were still alive 30, 40 minutes after being shot, they could have been saved. A prospect named Trainer from out of Tarrant County chapter was shot. They zip-tied him and laid him on the ground next to a Bandido they had handcuffed. I noticed him jerk a few times, laying there. We were sitting there, 30 feet from him, and weren’t able to help him. About two hours later, somebody walked over, looked at him, and covered him with a yellow sheet.
Nor has the post-shootout response of the local criminal justice system been a model of impartiality:
Justice of the peace Walter “Pete” Peterson’s across-the-board imposition of $1 million bonds—“to send a message,” he said—was almost certainly illegal. Waco P.D. officer Manuel Chavez later admitted in court that Peterson signed all 177 of the so-called cookie-cutter probable-cause affidavits in bulk, without specifying the evidence against each individual defendant. Peterson, it turns out, is a former state trooper with no legal training.
Nevertheless, the Waco 177 still have their work cut out for them. The judge in the case, Matt Johnson, is the former law partner of district attorney Abel Reyna. Incredibly, the foreman of the first grand jury to be convened, James Head, is a Waco P.D. detective. “He was chosen totally at random, like the law says,” Reyna insisted to local reporters. If this seems brazen, consider that the commission to appoint jurors was originally going to be led by Reyna’s own father. Reyna only backed down under pressure, acquiescing to the process that led to Head’s selection. Asked why he’d permit an active police officer to lead a grand jury investigating possible police misconduct, state district judge Ralph Strother said, “I just thought, ‘Well, he’s qualified. He knows the criminal-justice system.’”
One need not take every statement of motorcycle gang members facing possible capital murder charges at face value to believe that something went badly wrong with the police response in the Waco shootout…
(Hat tip: Reason.)