Five defendants in the Twin Peaks Massacre case filed suit for false arrest in the Austin Division of the federal Western District of Texas yesterday.
The complaint names Waco Police Chief Brent Stroman, Waco Police Detective Manuel Chavez, McLennan County District Attorney Abelino Reyna and an as yet unnamed employee of the Texas Department of Public Safety as defendants.
All five of the complainants have been indicted for Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity with the Intent to Commit or Conspire to Commit Murder, Capital Murder, or Aggravated Assault. Their names are Matthew Clendennen, George Bergman, Noe Adame, Rob Bucy and Jorge Salinas. They are all represented by Dallas lawyers Don Tittle and Clint Broden.
The suits represent five individual indicted suspects. The suits are not part of a class action or multi-complainant suit. It would not be extraordinary if the respondents, which is to the city, county and state officials named in the suits, ask that these and any subsequent suits be consolidated.
A group of at least 30 defense attorneys representing defendants charged in the Twin Peaks Massacre have scheduled a joint press conference tomorrow at the Waco Hilton at 2:15 p.m. Central Time.
The suits seek:
“Compensatory damages in an amount deemed sufficient by the trier of fact to compensate him for his damages, which includes past and future mental anguish, past and future pain and suffering, past and future damage to his reputation, and past and future lost wages and lost earning capacity.”
The complainants also seek: “Damages as a result of Defendants’ actions and conduct that have impinged on rights guaranteed by the First Amendment, such as Plaintiff’s right to free speech, and to association. Conditions placed on Plaintiff’s bond have deprived Plaintiff of rights guaranteed by the Constitution. It was entirely foreseeable to Defendants that falsely arresting and charging Plaintiff with a criminal offense for which probable cause was lacking would lead to these constitutional deprivations and damages.”
The five wronged men also seek: “Damages for the costs…incurred in having to post bail and defend against the false criminal charges filed against (them). Those costs include the money…paid for legal representation;” “exemplary damages against each Defendant;” and “reasonable and necessary attorney’s fees.”
Right To Be Free
The aftermath of the Twin Peaks Massacre is the most egregious episode of false arrest since the internment of about 120,000 Americans of Japanese origin or descent in 1942. The Civil Liberties Act of 1988 authorized payments to former internees that totaled about $16.5 billion. Recent claims of false arrest and detention have generally resulted in compensation to the falsely arrested of $2,500 to $5,000 per hour of false imprisonment. In a notable case from 2005, titled Martinez v. Port Authority of New York, the complainant was awarded about $8,400 an hour in compensation for his 19 hours of false imprisonment.
The five nearly identical lawsuits describe the statements made to the press after the Massacre as “inaccurate, exaggerated, and highly misleading.” The suits describe, “the ‘shootout between outlaw motorcycle gangs’ theme that continues to be trumpeted is patently false. Perpetuating the narrative has caused irreparable harm to the reputations of the many individuals, including Plaintiff, who had nothing to do with the fatalities and injuries.”
The five individual suits also describe the conduct of the respondents to the suit in a way that virtually begs for a RICO indictment. The complaints allege: “In the hours and days immediately following the incident, Defendants Stroman, Chavez, Reyna, and Doe entered into a conspiracy to deprive Plaintiff of his right to be free from unlawful seizure and incarceration in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. Defendants acted in concert either to orchestrate or to carry out the illegal seizure and cause the illegal arrest and incarceration described in this Complaint when they knew there was no probable cause to arrest him or to charge him with the offense of Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity.”
And, the complaints reference the spurious nature of the indictments handed down a week ago; noting that they are, “identical for every single individual. To date, there has been no attempt to state with any particularity the facts on which the first degree felony against Plaintiff is based. From a fill-in-the-name template probable cause affidavit, to a fill-in-the-name template Indictment, violations of Plaintiff’s constitutional rights continue.”