Last week’s hyperbolized release of surveillance video taken on the patio of the Waco Twin Peaks on May 17 hardly qualifies as evidence of anything. CNN correspondent Ed Lavandera reports that “a fight and shootout erupts just off camera…. The reaction tells the story of the chaos and horrific scene that unfolds as the gunshots start exploding.”
There might be more to the story than CNN can see.
Just before an edit, a couple of Cossacks climb over the railing toward the confrontation. After the edit, Cossacks scramble over the railing back to the now deserted patio. One Cossack draws a pistol but can’t find a target. Others just outside the patio go down on the ground as if they have been ordered to do so by the police. The only indication of what is happening in the parking lot is in the overexposed, upper left corner. A man is clearly shot there and falls although his killer is invisible.
The video tantalizes. It doesn’t explain. There is at least one, as yet undiscovered and unleaked video that could show exactly what happened, second by second in the parking lot between the Twin Peaks and Don Carlos restaurants that day. It was a “covert camera” that has also been described as a “polecam.” Polecam is a term used by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The Texas Department of Public Safety is more inclined to use the term “covert camera.” There was one installed to survey the parking lot that day. DPS Lieutenant Steven Schwartz put it there.
In pre-trial hearings so far, Schwartz has testified as an ‘outlaw motorcycle gang expert.” He became an expert an expert in outlaw motorcycle gangs “Through training and experience. I’ve attended thousands hours of training to get to the position where I’m at, at this point in time in TECOLE registered hours. (TECOLE is cop cant for the Texas Commission On Law Enforcement.) I’ve attended investigative training courses with regards to gangs, narcotics, and then also participated in numerous investigations regarding narcotics and gang activity”
Schwartz and prosecutors have also seen and entered into evidence another video that might contribute to the story of what happened at the Twin Peaks that day beyond a “shootout erupts.” However, the astounding brevity of that video explains what seems to have happened to the polecam video and why it will never show what the public has a right to expect it might show.
The Short Video
“Lieutenant Schwartz, what are we looking at here,” prosecutor Michael Jarrett asked at an examining trial for a defendant named Burton George Bergman.
“This is the north side of Twin Peaks in the Central Market Place parking lot” the gang expert replied.
“And there are officers in marked police vehicles at this point?”
“Yes, sir. There were multiple marked units in the parking lot, in and around Twin Peak.”
Many videos. There were many videos. This one showed Bergman riding into the Twin Peaks parking lot in a pack that included Bandidos but it didn’t show him heading for a restroom a few seconds later. Bergman parked in front of the Twin Peaks “right near where the shooting happened” and walked toward the Don Carlos.
Schwartz described Bergman’s parking space as “a front row seat.”
Can’t Answer That
Eventually Bergman’s attorney, Clint Broden, asked Schwartz about the video that put Bergman at the scene of the crimes.
“Now we saw a very short portion of the video,” Broden began. “What do you think that was, the video we watched? I think…about 30 seconds to a minute?”
“Sure,” Schwartz agreed.
“And you heard Mr. Bergman’s statement that soon after…he pulled off and needed to use the restroom. You heard that statement, correct?”
“And that was after…after he pulled off, after that video we saw he started heading towards Don Carlos’ restaurant. You heard that statement?”
“That’s what he stated, yes.”
“Okay. And I guess I’m going to ask you if you had that video, why didn’t we see the rest of it where he starts heading towards the Don Carlos’ restrooms?”
“I can’t answer that.”
“Okay. Well, did you look at the rest of the video?”
At that point Jarrett interrupted and explained, “Judge, I will tell the Court that that’s the entirety of that video, so this accusation that there’s some other part of the video that’s not been shown. That’s the entirety of that video.”
The judge, James Morgan, said “Alright.”
Broden wondered, “Okay. Where did that video come from?”
“That’s from a camera off of a Waco police unit, I believe,” Schwartz said.
“And is there a reason they stopped the camera at the point the video ended by Mr. Jarrett’s representation,” Broden wondered.
And the motorcycle gang expert explained, “I cannot answer that.”