Waco

Waco Biker Prosecutions Over After Nearly Four Years; All Remaining Charges Dropped

District Attorney admits "we are not able to prosecute any of those cases and reach our burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt."

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Nearly four years ago, over 170 people were arrested after a chaotic scene outside a meeting of biker clubs at the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas,** in which both police and some bikers fired guns and nine people were killed (at least four of them almost certainly by police) and 20 injured. Today, after years of highly questionable prosecutorial practices, the remaining 24 indictments have been dropped. No one will actually end up convicted for any crimes committed that day in May 2015.

CNN

Current McLennan County District Attorney Barry Johnson, who inherited the whole mess from former D.A. Abel Reyna, told the Waco Tribune that he spent 75 percent of his time since taking office in January trying to deal with the aftermath, and has concluded "after looking over the 24 cases we were left with, it is my opinion as your district attorney that we are not able to prosecute any of those cases and reach our burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt."

Despite lacking any sure knowledge of who actually harmed anyone and who was just unlucky enough to be there, 155 people were indicted on the identical charge of "engaging in organized criminal activity" and held on punitively large $1 million bonds.

Despite causing severe harm to many of the arrestees' lives—by either the time they spent in jail or by the indictments hanging over their heads—only one of the indictments ever even went to trial in the intervening years, and that one "ended in mistrial in November 2017, with most of the jurors in his case favoring acquittal," as the Waco Tribune noted.

Reyna himself, in charge during the initial arrests and charges, had already dismissed all but 24 of the cases, and he re-indicted those suspects on different charges. The Tribune also pointed out that some other possible charges were no longer available to the D.A. as the absurdly overlong process in the case pushed them past the three-year statue of limitations.

New D.A. Johnson jabbed at Reyna, who he beat handily in an election last year:

In my opinion, had this action been taken in a timely manner, it would have, and should have, resulted in numerous convictions and prison sentences against many of those who participated in the Twin Peaks brawl. Over the next three years the prior district attorney failed to take that action, for reasons that I do not know to this day.

Reyna's bad actions and planning, Johnson claims, cost the county at least $1.5 million in preparation, trial, security, and overtime costs.

And the potential costs to the county aren't over yet. As the Waco Tribune reported, "more than 130 of the bikers have civil rights lawsuits pending against Reyna, former Waco Police Chief Brent Stroman, the city of Waco, McLennan County and individual local and state officers who were involved in the arrests."

As attorney Don Tittle, who is representing over 100 such bikers, told the Waco Tribune:

Maybe if law enforcement had stuck with the original plan to focus on individuals who might have been involved in the violence and let the rest of the motorcyclists go after being interviewed, things would have gone differently…. It's hard to imagine that turning the operation into a dragnet wasn't a major distraction for the investigation, not to mention a public that grew increasingly skeptical as this thing played out. All this for an ill-advised attempt to prove an imaginary conspiracy theory, which to this day there's not a shred of evidence to support.

Reason has reported on the case from the beginning, on such elements as the police department's own role in the mayhem it claimed to be quelling, the civil rights implications of the mass arrests on the same generic charge, police attempts to obfuscate evidence, police presence on the grand jury, the absurd punitive nature of the $1 million bonds, the damage to defendants inherent from the start in the mass arrests, and the gradual falling apart of all the indictments over time.

**Correction: The post originally misidentified the location of the incident.

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  1. It was like the old DA just got done watching the Dark Knight and thought “Yeah I will just lock them all up!”

    Except in this case, I don’t remember reading about a clown killing people (other than the ones with police uniforms on).

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  2. In my opinion, had this action been taken in a timely manner, it would have, and should have, resulted in numerous convictions and prison sentences against many of those who participated in the Twin Peaks brawl.

    So just remember, it wasn’t a bogus prosecution attempt, or unlawful/unethical behavior of cops. It was the DA just didn’t do it hard and fast enough!

    1. The police participated in (or perhaps even precipitated) the Twin Peaks brawl. Maybe Johnson has them in mind as well with this statement.

      1. I laughed out loud.

  3. Over the next three years the prior district attorney failed to take that action, for reasons that I do not know to this day.

    Did the bikers waive their 4th Amendment rights? If they did, I know the reason…

  4. No one will actually end up convicted for any crimes committed that day in May 2015.

    “No reasonable prosecutor would bring charges.”

  5. Bikers aren’t good people so I don’t care.

    1. Biker bigot.

    2. They are caring people who try to reduce their carbon footprint, even at the price of riding exposed to the elements.
      Please show a little respect.

    3. Ignore this idiot. He trolls on here all the time. He’s not important. And I suspect he knows that.

    4. If you wait until the State is violating the civil rights of good people, the State machine will have developed so much momentum it will be much harder to stop.

    5. Eat shit and die in your cage. We wanna get loaded. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MnGzl-OEyGE

  6. this story was absolutely insane and the fact that the press didn’t have ongoing coverage of this bizarre event is a travesty. Also can someone do a case study on police massacres in Waco? is it in the water, a magnetic field or just straight up aliens?

    1. I blame Joanna and Chip Gaines.

    2. Tommyknockers

    3. The first one was 100% the fault of Janet Reno, who took command from 2,000 miles away because she just had to prove she had balls.

      1. As if alligator wrestling wasn’t enough.

      2. BATF bears a large part of the blame for starting it in the first place, before Reno was appointed. Apparently they lied on the warrant application (claiming the Branch Davidians had illegal drugs) – so the supervisors should have been charged with felony murder. They _planned_ to kill several dogs just to plant some cameras. And they executed this badly enough to get into a firefight with the residents and get their agents killed.

    4. Yes.

  7. McLennan County. ’nuff said.

  8. “No one will actually end up convicted for any crimes committed that day in May 2015.”

    Because many of those crimes were perpetrated by the police?

  9. Now comes the lawsuits. Cops are going to explain what they did. And no explanation is going to come forth. But fortunately for them they have qualified immunity and the taxpayers will shell out millions in a lawsuit.

  10. Thanks for the update Brian.

  11. I’ll consider having faith in our system when the police who did the killing are all tried and convicted. This was a police riot.

    1. +1 Chicago

  12. In a perfect world Waco would go bankrupt after losing the lawsuits and the police involved would all go to prison – hey I can dream can’t I?

  13. The Statue of Limitations must be the new Statue of Liberty, I guess.

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  16. It took the prosecutors only four years to find out there isn’t any evidence to convict the bikers?
    That has to be a new world’s record, at least for Texas.

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