Breitbart Texas sent a Texas Public Information Act request to the City of Waco for certain enumerated information and videos related to the Twin Peaks biker arrests on May 17, 2105. The City of Waco responded to the request… sort of.
On June 4, 2015, Breitbart Texas sent the City of Waco a Public Information Act Request asking the custodian of records for the Waco Police Department to allow “an opportunity to inspect or obtain copies of public records pertaining to: all video related to the May 17, 2015, shootings at, or around, the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas, including but not limited to surveillance video from the Twin Peaks and Don Carlos restaurants, and the police dash cam video.”
Breitbart Texas’ letter to the City specifically stated that “If you deny any or all of this request, please cite each specific exemption you feel justifies the refusal to release the information and notify me of the appeal procedures available to me under the law.”
On June 16, 2015, Breitbart Texas received an email response from the City of Waco.
The City first attached a list of the 177 bikers arrested. The nineteen pages of incident reports were also attached. There was also a letter from the City to the Texas Attorney General.
The letter to the Attorney General claimed certain legal exceptions to the public disclosure of the information requested by Breitbart Texas, and requested an opinion about the disclosure or exemption from disclosure of the requested information. The City stated it would wait on the release of the other information until after the Attorney General issued a response to the City’s letter to the AG claiming certain exceptions.
The attached list of those arrested included their names, date of birth, addresses, criminal charge, amount of the bond, and case number. All of those arrested were charged with engaging in organized criminal activity, and had $1 million bonds.
The 19 pages of incident reports included summaries and incident reports relating to only 13 of the arrestees.
Moreover, the letter attached to the City’s response to Breitbart Texas’ request for public information was the City’s letter to the Texas Attorney General as it relates to seven requesters not associated with Breitbart Texas, and it related to a pending City of Waco Police Report.
In this letter to the Attorney General, the City responded that a pending City of Waco Police Report was requested. The City claimed certain legal exceptions to disclosure of this information and asked for an Attorney General opinion on the issue.
The pending Waco PD report was, in the City’s view, exempted from disclosure under a law enforcement and prosecutorial information exception. Specifically, exceptions dealing with information held by a law enforcement agency or prosecutor that deals with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of a crime if the release of that information would interfere with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of a crime.
The City also claimed an exception stating the pending Waco police report contained information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial opinion.
Another exception claimed to the pending Waco PD police report, is for information that relates to an employee or officer of the governmental body which is excepted under the law if, under the specific circumstances pertaining to the employee or officer, disclosure of the information would subject the employee or officer to a substantial threat of physical harm.
The City requested an opinion by the Attorney General on all of these claimed exceptions.
Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served the state of Texas as a prosecutor and an associate judge. Follow her on Twitter@LanaShadwick2