Almost four years after a gunfight among rival motorcycle gangs left nine bikers dead at a Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas, this story of wild misconduct and ineptitude in the criminal-justice system came to a predictable conclusion on Tuesday.
Roughly 200 bikers were arrested on May 17, 2015, according to the Waco Tribune-Herald; 155 were charged with engaging in organized criminal activity; many were held on $1 million bond. But prosecutors announced yesterday that they were dismissing all remaining cases. In the end, just one biker was brought to trial.
He was not convicted.
The former district attorney for McLennan County, Abel Reyna, bears much of the blame. The official narrative laid responsibility for the massacre wholly on the bikers, but the Associated Press later found that police at the scene shot at least four of the nine who died.
The Appeal has a good summary of what happened next:
Police arrested … some who were hiding in the bathroom during the fight and three bikers who arrived after the shooting was over. A federal lawsuit later alleged that Reyna had ordered the mass arrests and prepared a “cookie-cutter” affidavit regardless of the evidence against individual bikers. A justice of the peace set bail at $1 million for every single arrestee “to send a message,” in his words.
Many were stuck in jail for weeks without a lawyer.
Reyna’s office ultimately pursued charges against more than 150 bikers under the argument that even individuals who weren’t involved in the fight were guilty by their attendance alone. More than 100 bikers have since sued Waco for wrongful arrest. Their cases could cost the city more than a billion dollars. Prosecutors were caught repeatedly withholding evidence during the first and, thus far, only biker trial. A Texas Ranger relayed that Reyna had specifically instructed him to keep evidence away from the defense team.
The matter stank of misconduct from the start.