Video footage and crime scene photos of the Twin Peaks biker shootout in May that killed nine men and injured 20 others was released on Thursday.
The Waco Police Department issued a strong statement that the department did not release the video, and suggested that defense lawyers may have done so. CNN reported they have been obtained two thousand documents and crime scene photos, as well as surveillance video. A sample of the videos CNN obtained is included in their video news report.
Excerpts from the CNN video footage shows bikers fleeing from the melee, some drawing weapons while they ran from shots fired. One of the bikers can be seen firing his weapon in a covered outdoor seating area at the Twin Peaks restaurant.
The video also shows the mass detainment if not arrest of men who were inside the restaurant. The men were shown in the video lined-up, hands on their heads, leaving the restaurant in file.
Gruesome and bloody photos are allegedly in the mix, as are guns and knives and other weapons. One of the photos shows a gun in a toilet.
In a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas, the Waco Police Department denied that either the department or the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office, released the video and crime scene photographs to any media outlets.
The statement from Sergeant Patrick Swanton of Waco PD says, “CNN has stated that ‘they’ put the Waco Police Department graphic at the top of the video which indicated we released it. Again, we did not. They have now removed that graphic as the video is not attributed to us and CNN is in the process of updating their sites. There is a small pool of individuals that include defense attorneys who had access to the information through discovery. The party responsible for providing the released video and photographs may be subject to ethical and legal issues for doing so.”
The department, prosecutors, and defense lawyers for those arrested are under a gag order. The police department wrote that because of the gag order, “we are restricted to releasing additional information on the Twin Peaks Investigation.” Defense lawyers have appealed the issuance of the gag order and the issue has not yet been decided by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
Release of the video and crime scene photos by the lawyers in the case could be a violation of the discovery rules.
The bikers have been critical of the Waco Police Department’s mass arrests, and their statements to the media through Sgt. Swanton after the shootout that they say categorized all bikers as criminals and members of a “biker gang” and indicted them by “guilt by association.” The 177 bikers at the Twin Peaks restaurant were swept up in a mass arrest and all charged with the felony of engaging in criminal activity.
As reported by Breitbart Texas, police characterized the afternoon gathering at the Waco Twin Peaks restaurant as a gathering of criminal biker gangs with violent intent; however, the bikers say the meeting was a legitimate, organized gathering of motorcycle riders to discuss political and other issues. The group gathered there, the Texas Confederation of Clubs and Independents (CoC&I), hold frequent meetings to discuss biker safety issues, proposed legislation, and other motorcycle issues. Their website gives a very different impression of the group’s purpose and goals than what has been portrayed by Waco PD Sgt. Swanton. Swanton conducted several press conferences after the restaurant shootings and an AP report after the shootings shows what became a repeated narrative.
Breitbart Texas has reported extensively about the Twin Peaks arrests, including the issuance of the gag order by a Waco criminal court judge preventing lawyers and prosecutors and others from talking to the media. The same judge had also blocked a Twin Peaks restaurant surveillance video from being released to the public. Breitbart Texas sent a Texas Public Information Act request to the City of Waco for that and other videos on June 4 and reported about the City’s noncompliance with the request.
Breitbart Texas has also reported that 177 men and women were arrested in a mass arrest without regard to probable cause as to each individual arrested. Sam E. Bassett, the president of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (TCDLA), issued a statement on behalf of the organization saying: “TCDLA believes that you carry out justice, even in complex cases, if there is a commitment to due process from both sides of the bar and judges. It is hoped that a stronger commitment moving forward will be implemented.”
Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as a prosecutor and an associate judge in Texas. Follow her on Twitter@LanaShadwick2