The black shroud the Waco Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives threw over the Twin Peaks Massacre 33 days ago leaks a little more light every day.
The most interesting breaking information today comes from Dallas attorney F. Clinton Broden who has filed a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Scimitar Motorcycle Club member Matthew Clendennen against the City of Waco and McLennan County, Texas. Today Broden released a search warrant and search warrant affidavit for Clendennen’s cell phone. The two documents contain information that directly contradicts statements made by Waco Police last Friday and that indicates the extent to which law enforcement has tried to control the commonly agreed upon narrative of what happened that day.
The documents illustrate not only the Waco police’s complete lack of credibility but the arrogance with which the department has lied. “I was lied to by the Waco police,” Broden complained. The Waco police have been lying to everybody. The Waco police have lied constantly in order to deliberately confuse the public’s understanding of what transpired that day. It might be time to start asking why they’re lying.
Clendennen’s phone was seized by police on May 17. The affidavit, was signed and sworn to by “Detective Sam Key” on June 12, which is 27 days after the phone was seized. Key, photo above, whose Linked in page identifies him as a uniformed Waco police officer states: “Multiple involved persons were observed using cellular telephones and/or other electronic devices immediately prior to, during, and after the altercation. Numerous cellular telephones and/or electronic devices were seized from individuals who were arrested and charged with Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity as well as other cellular telephones and/or electronic devices which were found abandoned at the scene.”
“Involved persons” were not the only people recording the crime scene on their phones. For example, The Aging Rebel has confirmed that a Texas game warden named Matthew S. Kiel video-recorded the crime scene on his cell phone and disseminated that video. When contacted, Kiel declined to discuss his participation in or video recording of the Twin Peaks Massacre but instead stated he could “not comment” on the events of that day. Kiel referred further questions to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in Austin.
The 27 day interregnum between the seizure of the video record and the drafting of a search warrant affidavit also suggests that the video cannot be used as evidence in the case under the well established legal doctrine of “the fruit of the poisoned tree.” The United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled a year ago that police cannot search a cell phone without a search warrant. So it seems reasonable to ask what the local police were doing with a mountain a evidence that was, according to Detective Key, stored at the “Waco Police Department Property Room located at 721 North Fourth Street in Waco, McLennan County, Texas.” The implication is that, while there, nobody so much as took a peak. The obvious answer as to why police kept this evidence on ice is that they were suppressing evidence that would have proved that many of those who were falsely arrested and imprisoned were in fact innocent of any crime. The less obvious answer is that the ATF and other federal police forces routinely confiscate cell phones and do not use the evidence they contain to prosecute their owners but as a way to gather “gang intelligence.”
In fact the affidavit explains that the police wanted to search Clendennen’s exactly because they were gathering “intelligence.” Key explains that the Waco police, presumably on behalf of the Texas Fusion Center in Austin and the ATF wants to collect: “electronically stored data, meta data, Exchangeable ElectronicImage File Format Data (EIXF), and other digital information, particularly described. as contact information, including names and telephone numbers, text messages, emails , call histories listing both incoming and outgoing calls, digital images including digital photographs and digital videos; recorded and stored in personal computers, tablet computers, and all electronic and digital storage devices capable of receiving or storing electronic data; the hardware necessary to retrieve such data; the manuals, with all software, and written notes, or printed materials describing the operation of said devices, equipment and software; and any and all passwords, cryptographic keys, digital security tokens, integrated circuit cards (Smart cards), radio-frequency identification (RFID) cards found at the location, that may allow access to the electronically stored data, meta data, Exchangeable Image File Format Data (EIXF), and other digital information, contained in any of the aforementioned devices and equipment.”
In parts, Key’s affidavit reads like a RICO indictment. Key offers a version of events that begins with the accusation that “three or more members and associate club members of the Cossacks Motorcycle Club (Cossacks) were in the parking lot at Twin Peaks Restaurant located at 4671 S. Jack Kultgen Expressway in Waco, McLennan County, Texas. Three or more members and associate club members of the Bandidos Motorcycle Club (Bandidos) arrived in the parking lot of the Twin Peaks Restaurant and engaged in an altercation with the members and associate club members of the Cossacks.” Three “co-conspirators” is the threshold number for bringing federal criminal charges under RICO.
According to the public documents, Key submitted his affidavit to Judge Matt Johnson at 11:06 a.m.. last Friday. In his sworn statement he said, “During the course of the altercations, members and associate club members of the Cossacks and Bandidos brandished and used firearms, knives or other unknown edged weapons, batons, clubs, brass knuckles, and other weapons. The weapons were used to threaten and/or assault the opposing factions. Cossacks and Bandidos discharged firearms at one another. Members of the Waco Police Department attempted to stop the altercation and were fired upon by Bandidos and/or Cossacks. Waco Police Officers returned fire, striking multiple gang members. During the exchange of gunfire, multiple persons were shot.”
Key’s statement is in at least general agreement with the statements of numerous survivors who have stated both publically and privately that multiple victims were shot by police.
Two hours later, stone-faced Waco Police Chief Brent Stroman fed reporters the sort of mendacious cop speak that has led to Waco’s credibility problem. A written release issued at the time of Stroman’s presser stated, “there are a total of 44 shell casings recovered from the Twin Peaks scene. This number does not include the revolver rounds fired by non-law enforcement shooters. Those casings are still being counted. 12 of those casings were from the rifles of 3 Waco Officers who discharged their weapons in defense of their selves (sic) or a third party. The Waco SWAT Officers’ weapons are .223 caliber rifles that are capable of full-auto fire; Officers only fired in semi-auto mode during the incident. There was no full-auto gunfire from any of the Officers at the scene. As is normal practice, rifles carried by the Waco SWAT Officers were deployed with sound suppressors. No other Officers fired rounds from any other weapon during the incident. The Officers involved in the shooting have been assigned administrative duties pending the outcome of the investigation.”
The Waco police’s press release, issued as Stroman was filling the sails of the good ship Waco Tribune-Herald with hot air, states, “The involved firearms have been transferred to the ATF for analysis. Videos of the incident have been transferred to FBI Investigators for analysis. Full autopsy and ballistics analysis is being conducted by outside labs and the completed and final results have not been returned to us as of this release.”
That paragraph epitomizes the kind of carefully worded propaganda the Waco police have managed when they try real hard to be cagey.
What Reporters Do
No one asked the most obvious questions: What does “involved firearms” mean? Police firearms? Firearms found in locked cars? What videos of the incident? The smart phone videos? Without a search warrant? Kiel’s video? Why is the ballistic evidence taking so long? Is it because the bullets were unusually frangible? How long does an autopsy report take? Why were the cellphones seized? Were they seized to destroy evidence that contradicted the police narrative? What do you think the public reaction might have been if first thing, the McKinney, Texas police department had seized all the cell phone videos of one of their cops running amok at a teenager’s pool party?
In a thinly veiled shot at The Aging Rebel in today’s Tribune-Herald, opinionator Bill Whitaker calls “incendiary…claims” made by this page and to Whittaker personally “that the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was somehow behind the ‘massacre’ of bikers at Twin Peaks. Whatever the veracity there,” the Tribune-Herald sagely advises, “letting such charges go unanswered and then fester for days or weeks only allows them to gain credence with more and more people. And the city of Waco — no stranger to the stigma that develops from such affairs – doesn’t need this sort of perception to take root if it’s not true. In some situations,” Whitaker warns his local police, “stubborn silence by one side can convey the perception it has something to hide.”
The Waco police have been hiding mountains of evidence since May 17. For the last month the Tribune-Herald, has acted like it is afraid to do its damn job. At least Clint Broden isn’t afraid to do his.