Free Minds & Free Markets

Waco Biker Massacre Prosecutions Continue to Fall Apart as Last Set of Original Indictments Dismissed

Special prosecutor involved in dropping charges says, "I do have a very serious problem as a lawyer with the wholesale charging of people without an investigation" in the case.

Nearly four years ago, over 170 people were arrested after a violent altercation outside a meeting of motorcycle club members at the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas, was swarmed by police, who had already surrounded the meeting before anything untoward occurred. Nine people were killed and 18 wounded in the melee. This week, the last of the initial set of charges was dropped after a special prosecutorial team didn't like what it saw.


From the start, lawyers and others pointed out that it was very unlikely indeed that all the arrested had committed any crimes at all, and that the initial $1 million bond for all of them charged with a blanket crime of "engaging in organized criminal activity" seemed unreasonably punitive. The police strove in the aftermath to keep a detailed account of what actually happened from reaching the public eye, or that of defense attorneys.

As the years under which those people had criminal charges hanging over their heads went by—with all the problems that come with that on top of the missed work and rent and family responsibilities that bedeviled them from their initial time in custody under that absurd bond—dozens of the arrested went unindicted as grand juries expired, and last year charges began to be dropped against many of the defendants, with not a single successful prosecution having happened yet nearly four years after the mass arrests.

Many of the bikers who had charges eventually dropped have filed civil rights suits against local police and district attorneys over the absurd arrests and incredibly long times to get any of them to trial.

This week the whole case continued its painfully slow unraveling, as three more bikers, the last still facing that first set of indictments, saw their cases dismissed. A team of special prosecutors eventually assigned to the case declared that the initial mass arrests seemed, in the words of one of them, Brian Roberts, "simply a shoot-first-ask-questions-later mentality....I can't imagine what (former McLennan County DA) Abel Reyna was thinking other than this was a big case and it was somehow going to be beneficial for him or his office," the Waco Tribune reports.

Roberts went on to echo the critiques against the Waco prosecution heard by many lawyers and media watchers over the years: Namely, that the bogus arrests hung over so many people's heads for far too long. "I do have a very serious problem as a lawyer with the wholesale charging of people without an investigation....It is just patently offensive to me. Justice is the sword and the shield. You had a number of folks who never should have been charged and whose lives have been turned upside down unnecessarily, and that is something you can't change. You can't take back what has happened over the last four years."

Reyna, the D.A. at the time of the arrests, lost re-election to the office last year, and had already, the Tribune reports, "dismissed the vast majority of the 154 pending indictments his office sought in the Twin Peaks shootout." Yet he then "re-indicted 25 Twin Peaks defendants on different charges in May, with most being charged with riot and three being charged with murder and riot. District Attorney Barry Johnson, who took office in January, has said he and his staff are reviewing those cases to determine how to proceed."

In a phone interview this morning, lawyer Paul Looney says he is trying to get one of those re-indictments for a client tossed out as well, and is just moving into the discovery phase of a civil suit for another one of his clients whose charges were dropped.

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  • awildseaking||

    With behavior like that you would think the DA was named Looney and not the defense...

  • Crusty Juggler||

    not a single successful prosecution having happened yet nearly four years after the mass arrests.

    Holy shit.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    What a fucking travesty of justice.

    The Texas county just charged people without sufficient evidence and tried to keep them all in jail pending trials.

    I hope this will be a lesson for other D.A.s around the USA as what not to do.

  • Libertymike||

    What about the blatantly unconstitutional actions of the pigs and prosecutors?

    The federal constitution guarantees a republican government for all of the states. A republican government is one which does not immunize the actions of cops, prosecutors, or judges.

    There can be no rule of law where the king and his men are immune from the application of the same to themselves.

  • Sonny Bono's Ghost||

    I'm still waiting for the charges against the law enforcement personel for indiscriminatly firing on a crowd of unarmed civilians in a parking lot.

  • Texas Guy||

    I think it is telling that there were a number of deaths from rifle rounds... not pistol. and of course some had multiple gun shots so a coroner saying "which bullet did it" could create a fog that didnt define Pistol or rifle shot...

    BTW, none of the bikers had rifles...

  • Longtobefree||

    So the DA has been proved completely incompetent; when is his last day in office?

    How many of the motorcycles were asset forfeited?

  • Tu­lpa||

    You should probably read the article.

  • bevis the lumberjack||

    He gone already

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I can't imagine what (former McLennan County DA) Abel Reyna was thinking other than this was a big case and it was somehow going to be beneficial for him or his office...

    Ha. Special prosecutor knows how prosecutors think.

  • Juice||

    Other than? What else are prosecutors even capable of thinking?

  • target||

    did they ever release any info about who fired what shots that injured 18 and killed 9? How many among the restaurant patrons were even armed? As far as I remember there was one guy in the parking lot who had a revolver, that got into an altercation with another guy (maybe fired a shot). So is there any record of which of the police fired their weapons, and whom among the patrons even had a weapon which "could have" at least feasibly, threaten the officers into opening fire? and were the ones that even had a weapon in their possession even the ones who got killed or injured?

  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    I wonder too. Been too long since this whole fiasco started, and I've lost track of all the goings on.

  • Griffin3||

    How about the police officers that denied the wounded bikers first aid, beat the arrested bikers trying to provide most basic aid to their fellows, made them watch as they bled out in on the ground?

  • Libertymike||

    You mean our "heroes."

  • Sonny Bono's Ghost||

    Short answer, NO.

    Slightly longer answer. I'm certain most of the charges were dropped to prevent discovery highlighting the disgraceful and arguably homicidal conduct of Law Enforcement in this incident. Firing indiscriminantly into a crowd with ARs because somebody heard a shot. is a bit over the top.

  • Texas Guy||

    no. not conclusively. There were a bunch of shots fired but somehow no after action report, (after all the autopsies and everything else) shows, who shot who, and with what weapon.

    Gee, I wonder why.

  • Rich||

    "Justice is the sword and the shield."

    What are the scales and the blindfold, chopped liver?

    Less snarkily, what exactly is special prosecutor Roberts trying to say here?

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    He's implying that some nitwit has been using the sword to chop a big bunch of baloney.

  • Duke of url||

    Hey, at least it's not the worst law enforcement action that ever took place in Waco Texas!

  • David Friedman||

    What I have been wondering is whether there was any attempt to match bullets in those who were killed with law-enforcement weapons.

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    Thanks for the update Brian. I tried to follow this story for quite a while but nothing was being reported. Major constitutional violations and the the distinct odor of a cover up of crimes by the cops and prosecutor. Hopefully the civil suits will expose some of this shit.

  • J555||

    These bikers got the shaft sure. But they have actually been treated more fairly by the justice system than Trump and those associated with him, who continue to be persecuted and imprisoned for holding the wrong political opinions.

    It would be nice if Reason could ever muster some outrage over the Soviet-style behavior of the US government in illegally spying on Team Trump, and then manufacturing fake "crimes" to retroactively justify their behavior.

  • Eggprd||

    Nine people died. That is important enough to warrant a lot of hard work. Has the investigation released any information about how they died? After four years, the public has a right to know either through publishing the results or through trial transcripts. If the bikers were or might have been responsible then they should be indicted and if the grand jury returns a true bill, there should be a trial. In my opinion the current issue is "speedy trial" - wot apparently ain't happenin'.

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