On May 18, the day after the Twin Peaks Massacre and the big Bill of Rights bonfire in Waco, the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas ran a brief on its website that told all righteous cops in Texas what they really wanted to know. “No officers were hit in the battle that left 18 wounded.”
“CLEAT lawyers and staffers were on the scene shortly after reports of the shooting surfaced,” the web story explained. “Organizer Tracy Chance was allowed access to officers at fixed positions to make sure they had access to water and sports drinks to keep them hydrated. Tracy was able to get the photos posted here.”
One of Chance’s photographs was captioned, “Crews prepare to transport the wounded.”
Different In Waco
These bare bones hint at the complexity and nonchalant cynicism of the Waco coverup. To outsiders it seems that most of the Waco establishment has been lying about the Massacre since sometime before the Massacre actually occurred and those outsiders are appalled. But Waco has gone through this sort of thing before and the local Waconians merely smirk.
This morning, in one of its regularly scheduled blasts of hot air, the Waco Tribune-Herald editorialized: “It might be your right to wear whatever biker colors you desire wherever and whenever you choose.” But, “from a strictly pragmatic and societal perspective, it’s quite likely you’ll be viewed with great suspicion by the police.” And, the police union, the local district attorney and all the local officers of all the courts. So much for Sammartano v. First Judicial District Court, in and for the County of Carson City – whatever that was.
Waco has its own legal standard of criminal procedure. In Waco the threshold for arrest is not probable cause or even reasonable suspicion but political whimsy. And the Tribune-Herald has no argument with that.
One bone points to CLEAT, which has “more than 19,500 members across the state” and “is the largest police officers’ union in Texas, the largest legal services provider in Texas specializing in representing law enforcement officers, and the largest alliance of local police officers’ associations in Texas.” CLEAT supported McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna in the last election, as did the private company that runs the county jail.
“Organizer Tracy Chance,” who was there to keep the machine gunners and lawyers and CLEAT staffers hydrated is a retired El Segundo and Inglewood, California police officer who is now double dipping in Texas. He previously worked for the Texas Municipal Police Association and his office is in Austin which is about 102 miles and an hour and 37 minutes south of Waco. It might have taken him as long as two hours to get to Waco, depending on how long it took him to pull on his boots. An outsider might wonder why crews were still preparing “to transport the wounded” two hours after the Massacre. Alternately, it might be interesting to find out if Chance started his ride north before the Massacre had even begun. And what parts of the crime scene he invaded? And whether he picked up any souvenirs? And what happened to all his photos?
And, why did the police on scene need lawyers? And who were those lawyers? And what is the nexus in Waco between CLEAT, the various police departments represented at the Twin Peaks that day, Abel Reyna, and the various judges who have participated in the prosecution of people who looked suspicious to the local police? How many of these lawyers who advised the police on scene at the Twin Peaks later represented defendants in the case?
There is nothing as simple as a list of lawyers retained by CLEAT. CLEAT does have “a legal staff of 20 including 16 lawyers, 10 field service representatives, and two full-time registered lobbyists.” Were they all at the Twin Peaks? Did they get a memo on Friday reminding them to be on call on Sunday? Did CLEAT depend on local lawyers to advise the machine gunners? Did any of those local lawyers later represent defendants in the case?
The one familiar name connected to CLEAT that appears in public records is that of criminal defender Rob Swanton. Swanton, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Waco police spokesman W. Patrick Swanton, is representing defendant Nate Christian Farish. On May 22, Swanton reportedly said “I don’t know how you can possibly represent more than one person without a potential conflict of interest.”
However, the June 2013 edition of the Texas Police Star describes Swanton as a “CLEAT Attorney.” And Swanton did represent former Waco FBI agent Lovett Leslie Ledger in a high profile case after Ledger lit up a three-pound Chihuahua in February 2008. “I’ve never heard a noise like that from an animal,” a witness said. She described the noise as a “screaming sound.”
Swanton explained “Mr. Ledger certainly feels very badly for what happened. But even with that being said, there are other factors that are important in assessing what happened, and I anticipate those will come out at the appropriate time.”
The next year Ledger pled no contest to felony animal cruelty and was sentenced by Judge Matt Johnson to “two years deferred ajudication probation.”
Johnson is District Attorney Reyna’s former law partner. More recently Judge Johnson issued a gag order on out of town defense attorney Clint Broden that remains in effect.
Rob Swanton was unavailable for a phone interview during the preparation of this story.