I've reported at length before about various reasons to question the official government narrative surrounding the chaotic and violent incident that resulted in nine people shot to death and 18 wounded and 177 arrested outside the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas, on May 17.
It all happened outside a planned meeting of a mostly political biker club coalition, the Confederation of Clubs and Independents. See here for the most recent, and here the most thorough, of that reporting.
The gag order on people involved in defending the arrested, keeping information from flowing to the public on this controversy, was successfully challenged, then alas reinstated earlier this month.
A set of autopsy reports have been issued about the dead. They are available in full at the Waco Tribune.
The Aging Rebel website, which has featured a lot of interesting reporting and speculation casting doubt on the police story, sums up the somewhat vague basics in this post.
While they do not authoritatively state any judgment on to exactly what type of bullets from what type of gun did the killings—important to discover how many of the deaths and woundings were caused by police themselves as opposed to out of control feuding bikers—the Aging Rebel web site sums up what they don't tell us:
They do not….disprove the notion that all, or at least most of the dead men were killed by police using M-16s and FN P90 machine guns.
Thirteen of sixteen entrance wounds were .25 inches in diameter or smaller.
FN P90s fire a round with a diameter of .224409 inches. M-16s fire slightly smaller rounds with diameters of 0.218898 inches. All but one of the victims had wounds fired from a downward trajectory. Six of the nine dead had head or neck wounds. None of the wounds contained gunshot residue which indicates that the shots were fired from at least three feet away and probably five feet or farther away. The absence of residue casts doubt on claims by prosecutors of "Bandidos executing Cossacks, and Cossacks executing Bandidos." Two of the dead had large wounds consistent with a 12 gauge shotgun slug. Ten of 16 wounds were in the back, indicating that the victims were running away when they died. Seven of the wounds were fired from right to left. Six were fired from left to right.
Nine millimeter bullets have a diameter of 0.35433 inches; forty caliber handguns fire a bullet that is four tenths of an inch in diameter and 357 magnums fire rounds that are about .357 inches in diameter…
Most of the recovered bullets were either highly deformed or fragmented which indicates they were fired by high velocity …..
Most police ammunition in the United States is designed to penetrate a human body to a depth of 12 inches and for that reason that ammunition is usually copper jacketed. Most of the bullets that killed at the Twin Peaks were copper jacketed….
None of the autopsies include ballistics information. Notations by eight pathologists involved in the autopsies describe bullets and bullet fragments in very general and inconsistent terms….
In other Waco news, the "examining trial" hearings have been happening for various of the arrested. Those proceedings are meant to ascertain whether there was sufficient cause for an arrest in the first place such that the arrested's cases should go to a grand jury for actual indictment. The results have not been encouraging about the judicial system's attitudes toward this whole mess.
A 65-year-old Bandido (one of the two biker gangs most blamed by police for the chaos) chaplain, Lawrence Yager, was found justifiably arrested, mostly because he had (legally owned and carried) guns in his possession and in his truck, although, as the Waco Tribune reported:
Yager's attorney, Landon Northcutt, of Stephenville, argued after the testimonies of Department of Public Safety Lt. Steven Schwartz and Waco police Detective Sam Key that neither officer could offer evidence that Yager conspired to commit murder, assault or any crime that day.
Yager was not wearing his cuts or colors that day and serves as chaplain for the Bandidos, a VFW post and the Texas Association of Vietnam Vets, Northcutt said.
"He was wearing a Christian T-shirt. He was there to minister to people who need him. That is what he does. He is retired. That is all he does," Northcutt told the judge.
The Waco Tribune's reporting from the examining trial (where standards for keeping the defendant in the system are far lower than probable cause) of married couple William and Morgan English is a good window into the standards that went into many, likely most, of the arrests that day:
Department of Public Safety Lt. Steven Schwartz, a 17-year department veteran, testified at the morning hearing that William and Morgan English wore patches that identified them as members of a group called Distorted….
He said he thinks the Englishes were aware of the rift between the Cossacks and Bandidos and they were there that day as a show of support for the Bandidos.
But under cross-examination from [the Englishes' lawyer Paul] Looney, Schwartz said neither he nor other DPS investigators were aware that the seven-member Distorted group existed before May 17…
Schwartz said they wore patches that said they support the Bandidos, so that tells him they are at least "somewhat involved in criminal activity."
He said he saw nothing that day and has developed no subsequent evidence to show the Englishes are involved in criminal activity…..
Schwartz agreed with Looney that the Englishes were cooperative and agreed to talk to investigators after the shooting.
"He said they told police that one of their friends brought a gun with him, but they left it locked up in the car.
"Other than that, all we have is that they were merely present at a murder. Correct?" Looney asked.
"Correct," Schwartz said.
Only two of the 177 bikers who were arrested on engaging in organized criminal activity charges remain jailed in McLennan County.
Texas Lawyer magazine sums up the grand jury process at work in this case, which won't see any of the arrested having any chance to clear their names until October, five months after the arrest.
Former Reason intern Jeff Winkler, writing in Texas Monthly, reports on various biker theories as to what was really up at Twin Peaks that day, reported from a planned rally in support of the arrested bikers that was shut down by a bomb scare last week.
Winkler's story ends with a touching scene of various bikers visiting the scene of the crime, treating it like an eerie combination of war memorial and live crime investigation, speculating on what sort of bullets from whom could have taken down biker comrades. (Many are quite sure a sniper was on the roof of a nearby restaurant shooting into the crowd.)
And two non-biker patrons on the scene are suing the restaurant for damages, claiming they were emotionally traumatized and received cuts and bruises at the scene, and that Twin Peaks was negligent for allowing the biker meeting to occur there in the first place after receiving warnings from police not to do so.
I talked briefly on the phone today with lawyer Clint Broden, who represents three of the people arrested that day. Besides confirming the history of the gag order being overturned then reimposed, when asked for any opinions about the relevance of, say, the inconclusive autopsy report, this lawyer representing clients in a matter of intense public interest involving possible criminal malfeasance by police could only beg off.
He's under a gag order.
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