The first of what will surely be a blizzard of federal civil rights lawsuits was filed this morning against the city of Waco and McLennan County, Texas.
Scimitar Motorcycle Club member Matthew Alan Clendennen (above) is also suing Waco police officer Manuel Chavez, who signed the criminal complaint against Clendennen and up to 177 other arrestees. Chavez’ criminal complaint states that “I hereby state upon my oath that I have reason to believe and do believe that heretofore, and before making and filing of this complaint, that on or about May 17, 2015 in McLennan County, Texas, the said Clendennen, Matthew Alan did then and there, as a member of a criminal street gang, commit or conspire to commit murder, capital murder, or aggravated assault against the laws of the State.”
Fill In The Name
The lawsuit notes that “the identical criminal complaint used in Plaintiff Matthew Alan Clendennen’s case was used to justify the arrest of more than 100 other individuals and only the names were changed in the various criminal complaints. The complaint alleges absolutely no individualized probable cause to establish that Plaintiff Matthew Alan Clendennen engaged in organized criminal activity
“At the time of Plaintiff Matthew Alan Clendennen’s arrest, the Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the United States Constitution required probable cause to arrest a citizen before the citizen’s liberty could be significantly restrained. Chavez, aided by Does 1-10 and/or Does 11-20, presented the criminal complaint to (Justice of the Peace Walter H. “Pete”) Peterson when no reasonably competent police officer in Chavez’ position could have concluded that a warrant should be issued against Plaintiff Matthew Alan Clendennen based on the allegations against him in the ‘fill in the name’ criminal complaint.
“In addition, Chavez, aided by Does 1-10 and/or Does 11-20, intentionally withheld material information regarding Plaintiff Matthew Alan Clendennen in the criminal complaint such as the facts that he was not a member of the Cossacks nor the Bandidos, that he did not participate in any of the violence occurring at Twin Peaks and, in fact, hid from the violence.”
The suit names 20 police officers as simply Jane or John Doe.
Clendennen is a resident of nearby Hewitt, Texas and a 2011 graduate of Baylor University. The 30-year-old, married father of four and employer of six “has no previous criminal record.” He is represented by Dallas attorney F. Clinton Broden.
The suit complains that although “Clendennen was present at the Twin Peaks restaurant” he “did not engage in any criminal activity…nor did he travel to Twin Peaks on that day with the intent to engage in any criminal activity nor did he anticipate that any criminal activity would take place.”
He “was on the patio area of Twin Peaks on that day when violence began among other individuals in or around the Twin Peaks parking lot. At the time the violence erupted, Plaintiff Matthew Alan Clendennen took cover by attempting to hide in a hallway inside Twin Peaks.” He “did not engage in any violence at or around Twin Peaks” or “encourage or solicit any criminal activity.” He “did not possess any weapons while present at Twin Peaks that day except for a closed Benchmade mini pocket knife given to him as a Christmas gift by his parents in December 2011 and which he has carried regularly since then. That knife never left Mr. Clendennen’s pocket while he was at Twin Peaks. Despite the fact that Plaintiff Matthew Alan Clendennen committed no criminal acts he was arrested at Twin Peaks on or about May 17, 2015 without probable cause and his motorcycle was illegally seized.”
The suit further alleges: “It was also the policy of the City of Waco, as decided and approved by their policymakers to illegally seize vehicles from those illegally arrested with the hopes of selling those vehicles for a profit.”
Clendennen complains that he has suffered the costs of a defense attorney, lost income, “mental pain and anguish,” “damage to his reputation,” and “the loss of use of his motorcycle.”
He is seeking “actual damages; pre-judgment and post-judgment interest as provided by law; interest at the highest rate allowed by law; exemplary damages; cost of suit; attorneys’ fees” and “such other and further relief to which Plaintiff may be justly entitled.”