A deeper look into who is on trial in the Twin Peaks case

Posted at 5:13 PM, Apr 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-29 16:44:13-04

May 2015 brought one of the bloodiest biker brawls in the country. After a fight in the parking lot of the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, hundreds of bullets scattered the scene leaving twenty injured and nine dead.

Nearly a year later just as many questions, if not more loom. While the community awaits the trials of those indicted; criticism of how city and county officials have handled the incident run rampant leading many to ask, who is on trial?

The aftermath of the Twin Peaks shooting thrust Waco and city officials back on the national stage. A quick internet search reveals op-eds and news analysis that places the competency of Waco and McLennan County officials into the spotlight.

On the day of the incident, 177 bikers were arrested. Not only is the police response being called into question but the subsequent action of the District Attorney and judges. Several lawyers for the defense have scrutinized the court and grand jury proceedings.

 “Starting out the charging instrument where everyone was charged with exactly the same charge just fill in the name- these things are supposed to be done on an individualized basis and that wasn’t done.” Defense Attorney, Paul Looney, told us over the phone. 

Several critics believe the action against the men is prejudicial, based off of generalizations that the bikers are a part of gangs and intended to start a violent melee. Many cite Waco Police Sergeant Swanton’s early press conferences as proof.

"They were not doctors and lawyers on 20,000 dollar Harley's, they were there to cause violence," Swanton said in an interview the day of the shooting in 2015. 

In November 2015, six of the indicted men filed a civil law suit against the McLennan County DA, Two Waco police officers and a trooper with DPS, stating their arrests were without cause. in the lawsuit the defendants include part of a police report where officials instructed officers to make sweeping arrests.

 Robert Callahan, a Defense attorney for a separate proceeding involved in Twin Peaks cites this same complaint, the report is included in the defendant's discovery documents. 

"If you are familiar with the findings one of the police reports shows that the district attorney showed up to the convention center while the police where still investigating and told the police if they are wearing a patch arrest them so it was clear that he really stepped into the role of a law enforcement officer.” Callahan said.

   In previous interviews DA Abel Reyna said by the states definition many members of the incident fell into the state classification of gangs and innocent parties would cooperate.

"If they're victims they shouldn't have any problem coming to law enforcement and cooperating to assure justice is done, and the individuals solely responsible are brought to justice." Reyna said in an interview last May. 

 Stan Schwieger has been a defense attorney in Mclennan county for over 20 years and says the response by officials is due to the oddity of the circumstances. 

“You need to look at it in light of your stepping into something that probably none of us I can’t imagine any district attorney or any law enforcement has imagined what would happen and prepare.” Schwieger said. 

Schwieger, the DA and the police all say they want to be sure each of the bikers get a fair trial

“Look at the impact on this guys life-this guy has had to pay thousands of dollars to bail out of jail. He’s had to potentially wear an ankle monitor, he’s potentially had restriction on his movements, he’s had restrictions on people he could see. He’s had all sorts of other things occur as a result of these charges and to shrug our shoulders and say sorry-- I don’t know if that does enough." Schwieger said.

In the months ahead, the truth will come out and ultimately you'll be the judge as to whether our local officials have done a good job in defending the community. 

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