Yesterday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton defied a federal subpoena to release official records that might reveal the extent to which federal police contrived and exploited for their own cynical ends the “biker brawl” in the parking lot of the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco on May 17, 2015. The brawl left nine men dead and 19 wounded and resulted in the administrative punishment of 173 men and four women with life altering incarcerations, draconian fines in the form of “bonds,” and property forfeitures.
The subpoena was issued by James C. Winton, an attorney representing the owners of the Waco Twin Peaks franchise, in a federal civil case in Dallas on May 21.
Winton sought documents possessed by the Texas Department of Public Safety pertaining to joint state and federal motorcycle club investigations. The information Winton sought included:
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“Writings or Recordings that refer, relate, or pertain to any investigation of motorcycle clubs or bike nights at any other restaurant or other venue hosting “bike nights” in Texas during the period May 17, 2014 – May 17, 2015.”
“Writings or Recordings that refer, relate, or pertain to any investigation of the Texas Confederation of Clubs and Independents, including but not limited to regional meetings in Texas during the period May 17, 2014 – May 17, 2015.”
“All Writings or Recordings that refer, relate, or pertain to the ‘support and investigation assistance’ provided to the Waco Police Department concerning the Incident.”
“Operations plan, tactical or otherwise, including notes from any preparatory meetings discussing the planning, staffing, overtime forces needed, assignments, location/deployment of officers, weapons to be used, emergency medical personnel assigned and on standby, and defensive measures to be used such as helmets/body armor, including but not limited to bulletproof vests.”
“Memorandum of understanding between You and the Waco Police Department.”
“All Writings, Recordings or other communication, including text, e-mail, and radio, between You or officers of any other Law Enforcement Agency or and any other personnel of any Law Enforcement Agency that refer, relate, or pertain to the Incident or
to the anticipated Texas Confederation of Clubs and Independents meeting scheduled to occur at 1 p.m. on May 17, 2015 at Twin Peaks Waco.”
“All video and audio recording of any activity of the Bandidos, Cossacks, or other motorcycle clubs, gangs or organizations between April 1 and May 17, 2015.”
“All Writings and Recordings, including but not limited to field notes, reports, and MDT entries or logs, that refer, relate, or pertain to any visits made to Legends Cycles by Your personnel at any time between May 17, 2014 and May 17, 2015.”
“All Writings and Recordings that refer, relate, or pertain to social media postings of any of those arrested on charges of engaging in a criminal conspiracy in relation to the events of May 17, 2015 at Twin Peaks Waco or any of their immediate family, friends, or acquaintances.”
Yesterday Paxton refused to release any information except some excerpts from some Department of Public Safety training manuals.
He complained that “two pending prosecutions and an ongoing criminal investigation related to the documents identified in this subpoena…would be undermined by disclosure of the records in DPS’ possession.”
The “ongoing investigation” may refer to an investigation the Department of Justice is calling “Operation Texas Rocker” that led to an indictment returned against three Bandidos Motorcycle Club officers on December 16, 2015 and unsealed on January 5, 2016. A press release issued by Richard L. Durbin, Jr., the United States Attorney for the Western District of Texas, described Operation Bottom Rocker as a 23-month- long investigation that was “ongoing.”
Or the ongoing investigation may refer to a Drug Enforcement Administration investigation into the Cossacks. That investigation was initiated on May 28, 2015 by DEA special agent Russ Culver and DEA Tactical Field Officer Joshua Moore. Tactical Field Officers are local police officers deputized by a federal police agency. TFOs are used almost exclusively as undercover officers in federal investigations.
The two “pending prosecutions” Paxton thinks would be subverted by telling the truth are United States v. John Xavier Portillo, Jeffery Fay Pike and Justin Cole Forster, the lone case that has resulted so far from Operation Texas Rocker and Texas v. Matthew Clendennen.
On January 25, 2016, forty days after the Bandidos indictment was returned by the grand jury, a federal judge named David A. Ezra “ordered that given the sensitive nature of the discovery material, for any material provided, production and viewing of discovery materials is restricted to the United States Attorney’s Office by appointment.”
Clendennen was a victim of the mass arrests that followed the Twin Peaks brawl. Clendennen’s lawyer, Clint Broden filed a “Motion to Reveal Identity of Confidential Informants and Undercover Law Enforcement Officials.” Broden filed the motion on February 2, 2016. Waco judge Matt Johnson denied the motion on April Fools’ Day.
Paxton is currently under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for violating multiple federal laws in 2011.