There was a hearing in Waco yesterday before a gangster judge named Matt Johnson on whether Abelino Reyna, the gangster district attorney of McLennan County, Texas should be disqualified from prosecuting defendants in the criminal cases that resulted from the deadly biker brawl at the Twin Peaks restaurant franchise in the city on May 17, 2015.
The comparatively youthful Johnson (photo above), a second generation judge in Waco, Reyna’s former law partner and like Reyna a member of what should probably be called the “Baylor Mafia,” has been obstructing justice in the Twin Peaks case for a 15 months. For example, he restrained one of the most prominent defenders in the case, Dallas lawyer Clint Broden, from publicly discussing the case for a year. He is an elected politician. He dispenses what passes for justice in Waco like an elected politician. And, at a glance, he deserves to be disbarred.
The issue in the hearing yesterday, as simply stated as possible, was whether Reyna picked who he wanted to prosecute rather than deciding whether the local police had established probable cause for prosecution. There is significant evidence that Reyna was clearly out of line. One piece of evidence – not the only piece but the piece that has been mostly widely disseminated in the last 15 months, is a report dated May 17, 2015 and written by Waco Detective J.R. Price—a 28-year veteran of the Waco police. It is too long to reproduced by most journalistic outlets – because the public’s attention span is fleeting as a hummingbird – but it probably serves the whole goddamn point of journalism to reproduce many of Price’s words here now. They concisely explain how so many innocent people came to have there lives ruined in the aftermath of the Twin Peaks blood bath.
What Price Said
“When I walked into the lobby area of the Convention Center, I saw investigators from not only our department but also the Texas Department of Public Safety as well as Representatives from the McLennan County Sheriffs Office. I was told there were representatives from other Police Agencies there although I did not see any in the immediate area where I had entered the Convention Center. I had seen other officers from outlying agencies providing security around the Convention Center. Therefore, it was easy to assume there were probably other officers assisting our department inside.
“I walked further in through the main lobby. I was able to meet with several detectives from the Special Crimes Unit as well as Neighborhood Services Section, which is part of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Waco Police Department. I learned there was a pending decision to possibly charge documented members of the Bandido and Cossacks Motorcycle Clubs, with the offense of Engaging In Organized Crime. I did confirm that detectives had already started the process of interviewing members of not only those two motorcycle clubs but as well as others that were present at the Twin Peaks Restaurant. I was given information that at least one City Bus had left the Convention Center with individuals that had already been interviewed, indicating they had been released after items such as their ‘colors’ and other personal property that would be essential to the Capital Murder
“I also confirmed that a representative from the District Attorney’s Office had asked all of the detectives to stop their interviews and go to one of the conference rooms for a meeting.
“I located Assistant Chief Lanning in the lobby area, and very shortly after I began speaking with him I saw that representatives from the District Attorney’s Office approached us, these individuals being Mr. Abel Reyna, Mr. Michael Jarrett and Mr. Mark Parker. It was then when I learned a decision had been made that upon interviews with any of the individuals, if it was learned that they were members of the Bandidos or Cossacks; that they would be charged with Engaging In Organized Crime based on the wording of an affidavit that had been prepared by the District Attorney’s Office.” (All italics by The Aging Rebel.)
“I was also told that information had been given to them from the Texas Department of Public Safety, that their agency had classified these two motorcycle clubs as Criminal Street Gangs.”
(The Cossacks had not previously been classified as a “criminal street gang.” The Cossacks were not classified as a criminal street gang that afternoon when the brawl at the Twin Peaks erupted. The determination that they were to be classified as a criminal street gang was made that night in the Waco Convention Center in order to facilitate the arrest of innocent people who were either believed to be Cossacks or believed to be affiliated in some previously legal way with the Cossacks.)
“I was aware of an ongoing investigation and intelligence that had been coming into their agency, that DPS had been sharing with other local Police Agencies, since at least February or March of 2015. I was also told by representatives of the District Attorney’s Office that if investigators were able to document that anyone else from any other Motorcycle Club was a supporter of either the Bandidos or the Cossacks, then they should also be charged with Engaging In Organized Crime.
“Assistant Chief Lanning also acknowledged this information as he had been in the Convention Center prior to me arriving . It should also be noted there were detectives from Waco PO, Department of Public Safety agents, McLennan County Sheriffs Office staff, that were present in the lobby during the conversation we were having with representatives of the District Attorney’s Office. I assumed a conversation had already taken place between the District Attorney’s office staff, possibly my Supervisor Assistant Chief Lanning, and/or others prior to my arrival at the Convention Center.
“After our conversation in the lobby area of the Convention Center, myself, Assistant Chief Lanning, MR. Reyna, Mr. Jarrett and Mr. Parker went to one of the offices of the Convention Center. Upon arriving in that office, I saw there was another individual from the District Attorney’s Office whom I do not know by name, but I was told he was one of their Appellant Attorneys. I also noticed there were a couple of investigators from the Special Crimes Unit (sic) another office using a computer for some paperwork need. Also present were representatives from the Convention Center, to include the Director Ms. Liz Taylor. I asked representatives from the District Attorney’s Office to provide me guidance regarding what the criteria would be for investigators to either document and/or possibly indicate that individuals would be charged with Engaging Ion Organized Crime. I was told that due to the wording in the arrest affidavit that had been prepared that it specified that these two previously mentioned Motorcycle Clubs had been documented by the Department of Public Safety as a Criminal Street Gangs. I was also told the arrest affidavit would support the arrest of not only any members of the Bandidos or Cossacks, but also anyone else who was a supporter of the Bandidos or Cossacks.
Engaging In Organized Crime
“It was explained to me that if a person was wearing a patch, clothing or insignia that indicated he or she was a supporter of the Bandidos or Cossacks; or if they mentioned in an interview that they were a supporter of the Bandidos or Cossacks, then they should also be charged with Engaging In Prganized Crime. I told representatives from the DA’s Office that detectives had already started interviews regarding a Capital Murder investigation. I learned that we would still be conducting our Capital Murder investigation, but it would be more than likely be a separate investigative report, from that of the Engaging In Organized Crime.
“I was told by staff of the District Attorney’s Office, that as written in the arrest affidavit, Engaging In Organized Crime would be a proper and legal charge. I also received the same acknowledgement from Assistant Chief Lanning. I learned that he had already been in communication with representatives from the District Attorney’s Office prior to my arrival at the Convention Center. He acknowledged the decision after discussions with the District Attorney’s Office. At that point, I told both him and representatives from the District Attorney’s Office, I would need to meet with any investigators that were still waiting on instructions as to what criteria would be used and had been set out per the arrest affidavit, specific to charging anyone with Engaging in Organized Crime.
“I walked out of the office with Assistant Chief Lanning and he acknowledged some of the investigators possibly already knew the criteria. I began making rounds throughout the lobby area and the meeting room with the information that had been given to us by the District Attorney’s Office. I also spoke with Assistant DA Mark Parker and asked him to meet with Detective Manuel Chavez. I had been told the arrest affidavit specified that it would be signed by a member of he Special Crimes Unit of the Waco Police Department. Detective Chavez was the On-Call investigator for the Unit at the time this incident occurred at the Twin Peaks Restaurant. Therefore, I did speak with him and explained what I had just learned. I also asked him to meet with Assistant DA Mark Parker to ensure he understood what criteria had been set out by their office.
Who To Charge
“I also explained to Detective Chavez as well as other investigators, that I had asked representatives from the DA’s Office, if someone could be charged under this affidavit if they refused to speak to a detective during an interview; as long as the detective was able to see or document they were either a Bandido or a Cossack, or a supporter of either one. I also had been told this could be based on their jackets or what is referred to as ‘cuts’ or ‘colors,’ as well as a any other patches or particular identifiers to show they were a documented member or a support member. I had noticed there were quite a few individuals wearing ‘colors’ that displayed a patch showing ‘I support the Bandidos.’ I also noticed some patches indicating ‘I support the Fat Mexican.’ I was told this would be specific to a supporter of the Bandido Motorcycle Club.
“Det. Chavez told me he would meet with Assistant DA Mark Parker, and then he was instructed to go to a room that had already been set up by the McLennan County Sheriffs Department as a Processing Center, for anyone that would be referred as a person who should be charged with the offense. It should be noted that when I arrived at the Waco Convention Center, I saw representatives from the McLennan County Jail, specifically Captain Kolinec and Lieutenant Armstrong. With them were additional staff from the jail, in the event that people would be processed at the Convention Center prior to being taken to the McLennan County Jail.
“It was my understanding that after the specific interview, or based on any physical observations of their colors or other evidence that fit the criteria as set out in the arrest affidavit; that individual’s name would be placed on a list which would be provided to the Processing Area. In that processing area, there was staff from the McLennan County Sheriffs Department-Jail Division, Det. Chavez, Judge Peterson, a representative from the District Attorney’s Office, and Captain Steve Smith from the McLennan County Sheriffs Office.
“It should also be noted I saw that detectives from the Waco Police Department-Neighborhood Services Section had set up an Evidence Receiving Area in one portion of the Convention Center. This was done for the purpose of collecting any cell phones, Motorcycle Club identifying clothing and any other evidence that would pertain to the investigation that was being conducted on the shooting that occurred at the Twin Peaks Restaurant.
“The interviews once again commenced, and continued to the very early morning hours of 5/18/15. I remained at the Convention Center with Assistant Chief Frank Gentsch until such time we confirmed all those individuals that would be charged per the criteria of the arrest affidavit, had either been interviewed and/or were awaiting transfer to the McLennan County Jail. There were a number of individuals that had not been documented with any criteria based on the arrest affidavit. They had been placed in a holding area until such time they could be taken to a specific location for their release. It should also be noted that individuals that had been transported to the Convention Center had been photographed, their names had been obtained, and other information documented in the event they had to be re-contacted at a later date.”
During yesterday’s five-hour hearing before Johnson, Price testified, “I didn’t know what a Cossack was until May 17, 2015.”
Stroman, who was two thousand miles away at the time, testified that it was his decision to arrest everyone wearing a “I support the Fat Mexican” tab. Stroman also testified that he had been told by Lanning that Reyna wanted to arrest everybody.
Chavez testified that he never talked to Reyna. Parker said he did.
Reyna insisted that that night, he did “the right thing.”
None of the evidence was straightforward enough for Johnson. There are two motions to disqualify Reyna. One was filed by Broden on behalf of Scimitar Motorcycle Club member Matt Clendennen and the other by Houston attorney Abigail E. Anastasio on behalf of Cossack Ray Nelson.
Johnson refused to rule on those motions yesterday. He told Brodin and Anastasio and Special prosecutor Brandon Luce, who is representing Reyna, to get back to him in ten days with written briefs.
After Johnson delayed his ruling, Reyna told KWTX reporter John Carroll, “I’m telling the citizens of McLennan County they don’t need to worry about the frivolous claims that have been made in this federal lawsuit and the frivolous claims made against me and this office and the Waco Police Department. It is ridiculous.”
Obviously, Reyna thinks his big problem will be his re-election. He and his co-conspirator, Johnson, also seem to think they can delay justice indefinitely. Both of them may be and should be running out of time.