Waco and its police department could be liable for millions of dollars in damages if litigants can prove that they arrested bikers without probable cause, violating their civil rights; or that Waco police shot and killed innocents. Yet the grand jury that will decide whether to indict the bikers is reportedly being led by a longtime detective in the Waco police department––an arrangement defended by a local judge, who declared, “If there is nothing that challenges his impartiality, he is qualified … Who is better qualified in criminal law than somebody who practices it all the time?”
When one of the arrested bikers, Matthew Clendennen, sued authorities, Waco’s assistant city attorney fought to prevent him from getting access to video footage taken at the Twin Peaks restaurant, key evidence in the incident. While a judge ultimately ruled that his attorney must be allowed to see the footage, he barred its release to the public and imposed a gag order in the case.
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The gag order was requested by McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna, who is named in Clendennen’s federal civil-rights suit––and granted by District Court Judge Matt Johnson, Reyna’s former law partner, according to press reports.
Over two months have passed since the shooting. The dead bodies have long since been examined. Yet the public still hasn’t been told how many of the gunshot victims were struck by bullets fired from police weapons. (I strongly suspect that if the answer was “zero” Waco police would’ve said so a long time ago.)
Why is this information being suppressed?
After all, evidence that is embarrassing to the Waco Police Department or that exposes the city of Waco to civil liability will presumably be made public eventually.
Here are two theories.