The aftermath of Waco’s real life Sons of Anarchy episode has always been a shell game.
The shell game is a street con that tricks the suckers with misdirection and slight of hand.
Here it is right here. Keep your eye on that pea. Watch the walnut shells. Where’s the pea? No. Now it’s over here. I tell you what. Let me tell you. I like you. Let me give you another chance.
When federal investigators instigated a confrontation between about two thirds of the Cossacks Motorcycle Club and members of the Texas Confederation of Clubs and Independents they hid behind the Texas Department of Public Safety which hid behind the Waco Police Department.
Where’s the pea?
When the world’s professional press showed up and asked what happened the professional press reported that a “real life episode” of a very popular television show had occurred. Professional investigative journalists reported that the Bandidos Motorcycle Club had declared war on the Cossacks and sure enough, a mere six months later federal investigators managed to create an indictment that alleged the same thing. What are the odds?
Today all the action in the “Battle of Twin Peaks” case would seem to be in the courtroom of a conman judge named Matt Johnson. Johnson is the former law partner of mouth breathing district attorney named Abelino Reyna. Reyna coined the term “Battle Of Twin Peaks.” The “Battle” occurred on May 17, 2015 at what was supposed to be a mostly political briefing of biker rights agitators at the slightly risqué Twin Peaks restaurant. Someone convinced the Cossacks and their supporters to show up early and steal all the parking spaces and the reserved seats.
There are hints in the discovery that that someone worked for the Waco police or possibly the Texas DPS. The discovery in the case contains many reports that are full of obvious, self-serving lies. The discovery also includes an affidavit by Jeff Rogers, a Waco Police Department “gang intelligence officer” who states he “expected some tension, some arguing, pushing and shoving,” and “fights.” Waco police and Texas Rangers surrounded the Twin Peaks parking lot to contain the anticipated fight and set up video cameras to record it. Nine people died. Waco police killed at least four of them.
Reyna reacted by arresting most of the witnesses, holding them on $1 million bond and portraying them as the fantastical antiheroes in Kurt Sutter’s television money machine – the antiheroes who grew rich importing guns from Ireland to California. Although they never dressed rich. They always dressed down in denim and leather. And, there was a lot of denim and leather in the Twin Peaks parking lot 450 days ago. So, you know, connect the dots.
Some people think Reyna’s actions in the aftermath of the “Battle of Twin Peaks” should disqualify him from prosecuting the criminal cases he created – either because he is a drooling idiot or because somebody in the Department of Justice or Texas DPS urged him to pretend to be Kim Jong-un.
This little sideshow about potentially disqualifying Reyna as prosecutor just because he was the guy who decided who to arrest has captured the attention of several of Texas’ many sterling journalists in the last few days.
Watch the shells. There’s only three shells. Now where’s the pea.
Johnson will decide whether Reyna should be disqualified and the outcome of this sidewalk con game is so in doubt that the Waco Tribune-Herald, the second most prestigious newspaper in Waco, right after the Penny Saver, dispatched crusty old cynic Tommy Witherspoon to Tweet live from Johnson’s courtroom.
“Reyna told Broden that he is not worried about the federal civil rights lawsuits. He said he is going to do the right thing no matter what,” Witherspoon tweeted mid-afternoon. “Broden seeks to swear in Thomas Brandt as a witness. Brandt is Reyna’s attorney in the civil cases and he objected to being sworn.”
Broden is Clint Broden, one of two lawyers seeking to disqualify Reyna. He is also counsel in some of the 15 civil rights lawsuits complaining of false arrest that have been filed against Reyna in federal court. “Judge Matt Johnson told him to remain in the courtroom until they work out the dispute.”
“Broden is trying to call Brandt. He is objecting, claiming attorney-client privilege. The judge said he could submit a brief to the court.”
Wow, this hearing is a real cliff hanger isn’t it? You’re doing a hell of a job, Tommy.
Watch the pea! Watch the shells!
Meanwhile In Dallas
Meanwhile in state court in Dallas last week, both the former owners of the Twin Peaks’ Waco franchise and some of the people who filed suit against them for negligence are trying to compel the Waco Police department and the Texas DPS to release information Both police departments are claiming a “law enforcement privilege.” Officially, the law enforcement agencies argue that releasing what they know about the Twin Peaks brawl would hinder their ability to further investigate what happened. As if they do not already know.
Most of the lawsuits filed against the restaurant rest upon “statements by Sergeant Swanton, the Waco PD Public Information Officer, following the Incident, alleging that (the restaurant) received numerous warnings from law enforcement that the
meeting of the Texas Confederation of Clubs and Independents at the restaurant would result in violence, an allegation that Defendants deny.”
In its defense, the restaurant alleges: “DPS knew in advance that the event was to occur, positioned officers around the event, observed the two groups coming together, positioned cameras around the event to capture evidence, yet did nothing to stop the two biker groups from colliding, all the while claiming that they warned Twin Peaks Waco in advance.”
The former owners of the Twin Peaks seem to be carrying out their own, open source, investigation into who behaved criminally and who did not. For example, a motion filed last Tuesday by lawyers representing the Twin Peaks owners contains this interesting statement:
“Eyewitness testimony is also crucial to learning the truth about the Incident and the actions of Decedents. For example, the poor quality video that has been released (on YouTube) shows Decedent Jesus Delgado Rodriguez committing an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon against a biker believed to be Jacob Reese, by striking Reese in the throat with what appears to be a knife. During the struggle between Rodriguez and Reese which followed, another man, believed to be biker Jacob Lee Rhyne, deceased, shot and killed Rodriguez. Counsel for Mr. Reese has stated that his client has been advised to invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege if an attempt is made to depose him prior to resolution of the criminal charges.
“Given these fact scenarios, it will be crucial to obtain every piece of evidence, including but not limited to witness statements, photographs, unedited video recordings, and scientific evidence to determine whether Reese committed any aggressive act prior to the assault with a deadly weapon by Rodriguez. Law enforcement records are also necessary to determine if Rhyne indeed caused the death of Decedent Rodriguez in defense of Reese. A similar analysis will need to occur as it relates to each of the Decedents, including Matthew Mark Smith and Richard Jordan.”
The same day, Rodriguez’ survivors also filed a motion in the same Dallas County court to “overrule the objections asserted by the Texas Department of Public Safety.”
All the parties in the civil suits filed against the Twin Peaks restaurant seem to agree that it is time for the Texas DPS to reveal what it was up to, what it knew and when it knew what it knew. It might also be time for the American public to know what federal and state investigators were up to before, during and after the most deadly biker brawl in American history.
But, America’s press is mostly oblivious to this. And what attention is still being paid to Waco is focused today on Judge Matt Johnson’s courtroom.