Nearly four years after nine men died and another 20 were injured in a brutal melée at a Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas, the local district attorney announced Tuesday that he will dismiss the remaining 24 cases involved in the shooting—effectively closing the criminal matter that began on May 17, 2015.
On that hot and bloody Sunday, a gun battle broke out between members of the Bandidos and Cossacks motorcycle clubs at a quiet outdoor shopping mall.
In the aftermath of the shootout, officials said they found more than 300 weapons in the kitchen areas, between sacks of flour and in bags of tortilla chips, inside vehicles, and even down the toilets of the restaurant, which has since shuttered.
Outside, blood pooled and bodies were draped between hundreds of motorcycles as men and women were lined up to be handcuffed.
More than 200 people were shuttled on city buses to the city’s convention center to be detained, most were transferred to the McLennan County Jail where 177 were held on charges of engaging in organized criminal activity in lieu of $1 million bonds. Motorcyclists and others were heavily critical of the mass arrests.
A grand jury chose to indict 155 of those people, but only one man, Bandidos Dallas County chapter president Jacob Carrizal, was tried by former District Attorney Abel Reyna. That case ended in a mistrial in November 2017, according to the Waco Tribune-Herald.
Carrizal’s case is among those that are to be dismissed, the Tribune-Herald reports.
McLennan County District Attorney Barry Johnson, who won against Reyna in the most recent election, was heavily critical of the former district attorney in his press statement. Johnson reportedly took over the case in January when he assumed office.
“Following the indictments, the prior district attorney had the time and opportunity to review and assess the admissible evidence to determine the full range of charges that could be brought against each individual who participated in the Twin Peaks brawl, and to charge only those offenses where the admissible evidence would support a verdict of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” Johnson said in a press statement.
“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,” he continued.
“Over the next three years the prior district attorney failed to take that action, for reasons that I do not know to this day,” Johnson added.
Clint Broden, who represented five criminal defendants involved in the case, said in a statement on Tuesday: “We are, of course, pleased with the actions of the new District Attorney Barry Johnson and applaud him for his efforts. On the other hand, the fact that this case is going on four years is a true miscarriage of justice. Many lives of those falsely accused were irreparably damaged by former District Attorney Abel Reyna not to mention the victims and their families who were denied justice from those actually responsible.”
“In the end, my clients are certainly relieved but the anger from the false arrests will never go away,” he added.
Dallas attorney Don Tittle, who represents about 120 of the bikers in their civil lawsuits, told the Tribune-Herald’s Tommy Witherspoon that “things would have gone differently” 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.”
He added, “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.”