Civil Liberties

Waco Biker Massacre Footage Aired by CNN; Big Questions About Responsibility for Shooting Remain Unanswered


CNN got a big scoop today in the Waco biker massacre story from May: obtaining some video from inside the Twin Peaks restaurant outside of which 9 people were killed and 18 wounded in a biker vs. biker vs. police melee.

Who exactly shot who and why has long been a mystery, and a mystery the police and authorities don't seem to want the public to find a solution to. See some of my reporting about that here, here, here, and here. Many theorize that the police vastly overreacted to a few biker on biker shots that resulted from a club feud outside the planned meeting of a mostly political multi-club coalition, and swooped in with heavy firepower that caused many or most of the deaths or injuries.

The video was under a gag order by a local Judge, as the Waco Tribune-Herald notes today:

The Tribune-Herald in the days following the shootout requested surveillance video and photos from the scene, but the city refused to provide more than 19 pages of incomplete incident reports from the day of the shooting.

The Texas Attorney General's Office ruled for the city on Aug. 7, saying it could withhold the photos, video surveillance and 911 audio recordings, among other evidence, from the Tribune-Herald…

On June 30, Judge Matt Johnson of Waco's 54th State District Court placed video from the restaurant surveillance cameras under a protective order because he said he was concerned about tainting potential jury pools.

Watch CNN's main story. You do see one biker firing one shot, but mostly you just see a lot of patrons and employees panicked by what's going on outside. You don't see the actual firing and being hit that constitutes the bulk of the massacre itself.

Some interesting points about CNN's coverage for people following this story:

• The footage does not in any way shed light on the big remaining mystery of who killed who and why…

• …and CNN itself is completely incurious about that; they cared enough about this May event to obtain and air this video, but at least in this clip (I cannot be sure CNN hasn't aired other followups, but this is the main segment I found on their site) they don't even let their viewers know there is any controversy or question about the police's behavior that day when it came to the shooting and killing.

• But the video does make it pretty clear that likely many/most of the 177 arrested that day were guilty of nothing other than being around when bad shit happened…

• …and makes it clear that CNN wants you to agree with the police that there is something inherently untoward and sinister about a bunch of Texas bike club members having weapons on them, regardless if they were illegally owned or obtained or used.