Three more victims of the mass arrests that followed the Waco Twin Peaks ambush a year ago filed federal civil rights lawsuits Friday in Austin.
The suits were filed by attorneys Don Tittle and Dan Jones on behalf of Bradley Terwilliger, Benjamin Matcek and Jimmy Dan Smith. The three are suing Waco police chief Brent Stroman, police detective Manuel Chavez and McLennan County District Attorney Abelino Reyna. The suits allege that the named defendants and an unnamed defendant “conspired” to deprive Terwilliger, Matcek and Smith of their constitutional rights.
“The decision to arrest and charge Plaintiffs and…other individuals with crimes despite video evidence, and statements from hundreds of witnesses, that directly contradict the existence of probable cause, or any reasonable belief thereof, can only be characterized as willful, intentional, and/or reckless,” the suits allege. “Based on the very specific information known by Defendants at the time their decision was made to arrest, including clear and unambiguous video evidence directly at odds with Defendants’ theory of a mass criminal enterprise engaging in organized crime, it is impossible to believe Defendants’ conduct and decisions were anything other than willful, intentional, and/or reckless. Defendants’ decision to ignore contrary and exculpatory evidence in favor of a theory unsupported by the facts or the law was consciously made and therefore willful, intentional, and/or reckless.”
Terwilliger was a hang around with the Line Riders Motorcycle Club who heard shots shortly after he arrived at the restaurant. As he took cover, he saw a friend named William Richardson shot and he attempted to give Richardson first aid. He called fellow complainant Benjamin Matcek – a member of the Line Riders who was not at the Twin Peaks during the gunfight – to come the restaurant to drive Richardson to a hospital. Smith is also a member of the Line Riders.
Police explicitly agreed to allow the three men to drive Richardson to a hospital, then arrested them after they left the hospital and “pulled into the parking lot of a closed business to regroup and process the traumatic events. While in the parking lot, Waco police officers approached the vehicle, and eventually decided to arrest Plaintiffs Matcek, Terwilliger, and Smith. Plaintiff Matcek was initially arrested and charged with criminal trespass and Unlawfully Carrying Weapons. Matcek bonded out of jail on those charges two days later on May 19, 2015. After Matcek was released from jail, a warrant for Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity was issued for him. Mr. Matcek was arrested based on the Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity warrant on May 20, 2015.”
Terwilliger was arrested and charged with Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity despite the fact that a Waco police detective told him that night that “he (the detective) had determined that the Line Riders were an independent club with no affiliation or association to any other club.”
Smith was “initially arrested and charged with Directing Activities of Criminal Street Gangs…. Days later, a second charge for Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity was added.”
All three men are seeking compensatory damages, the costs of the suit, exemplary damages and lawyers fees.
After he filed the suit, Jones told The Aging Rebel, “We are committed to not letting any level of government get away with destroying human rights…not on our watch.”