I had not followed the Texas Biker meet, greet, shoot up in Waco Texas but then I read the article below from GQ and thought once again its cops gone wild.
Texas is supposedly to stop the Grand Jury rig game "pik-a-pal" and clearly that has clearly been avoided in this case.
Then we have the gag me order by the DA to stop the questioning and interviewing the 177 bikers who well gave the interview below.
Of course the gag ball in this case is not one the DA feels compelled to wear.
The story behind the story of this case is now becoming much like an episode of Sons of Anarchy. Man I miss that show. And the best part is that they were at a bar called Twin Peaks. I hear that one is coming back on the air. They could update it and instead of pie they could have wings and beer. And you think people make this shit up. But wait art imitates life or something like that.
The Untold Story of the Texas Biker Gang Shoot-Out
It was supposed to be a quiet meeting of regional clubs at a local Waco breastaurant. Instead, nine men were killed, 20 were wounded, and 177 wound up in jail. Was it a turf war gone mad? Or a botched police response?
By Nathaniel Penn
GQ September 30, 2015
11 A.M., MAY 17, 2015
TWIN PEAKS RESTAURANT
The Twin Peaks chain is the most successful of America's post-Hooters wave of so-called breastaurants. (“Hooters,” the co-founder of Twin Peaks has said, “wasn't racy enough.”) Flirty waitresses wear skimpy mountaineering outfits: tiny khaki shorts, midriff-baring plaid shirts, climbing boots.
A sign outside promises EATS • DRINKS • SCENIC VIEWS.
Though it had been open less than a year, the Twin Peaks in Waco was already a popular spot for Thursday Biker Nights.
The Texas Confederation of Clubs and Independents—a kind of United Nations General Assembly for local motorcycle clubs—had never held its bimonthly meeting at Twin Peaks before, but the organization's state chairman was returning from a national convention, and he wanted to speak to as many Texas bikers as possible about various legislative initiatives.
Waco is situated between Dallas and Austin, two of the most populous biker cities in Texas.
Afterward—after nine bikers were shot dead, 20 were wounded, and an unprecedented 177 people from at least five different clubs wound up in police custody—the Waco Police Department would claim that the bloodbath was triggered by the Bandidos and the Cossacks, a pair of rival “outlaw motorcycle gangs” (OMGs in law-enforcement vernacular), beefing over the things that OMGs tend to beef over: territory, respect.
Months later, though, the Waco P.D. was still suppressing any video footage and ballistic analysis that could offer proof.
Some of the 177 arrested (including four women) languished in jail for weeks, others for months, before they could afford to post bail. All of them, even guys who hid out in the bathroom while bullets flew, face up to 99 years in jail.
These bimonthly confederation meetings, known as COC meetings, are mostly arcane discussions of motorcycle-rights issues.
They have zero history of violence. Then again, they have virtually zero history of Cossack participation. In fact, May 17 marked only the second time in memory any of the club's members had ever attended a COC meeting; for years, they'd refused to join the organization—a direct rebuke to the Bandidos, Texas's most powerful motorcycle club and one of the nation's largest, with more than 2,000 members. But things had been ugly between the two rivals for a while—fistfights, knife fights, roadside beatings. Infrequent, but growing in brutality.
As a general rule, bikers are not big talkers. It's an insular and suspicious world, especially in Texas, especially now, in the hazy aftermath of the bloodiest day in the often sensationalized history of American biker clubs. Nevertheless, all the Cossacks interviewed by GQ for this story insist they showed up that morning to make peace.
And virtually every biker I spoke with last June and July—Cossacks, Bandidos, members of multiple other clubs, 22 bikers in total—believes that the real blame for all the dead bodies belongs with the Waco police.
Anonymous Cossack #1: (1) We had almost 70 men, and we showed up at the same time, because we don't like being left on the road in small groups, because of what's been happening. We went in and ordered drinks.
Vincent Glenn (officer, Waco P.D., from an affidavit dated June 15): The Cossacks and their support clubs took over the patio area, which is the exact area of the restaurant that was reserved for the [COC] meeting.
Anonymous motorcycle-club member: We noticed all the Cossacks sitting on the patio. We gave respect to them, them being a bigger group and having so many people there.
Anonymous Cossack #1: A group of seven Bandidos rolled up on bikes, furious that we were parking up front. They hit one of our prospects, an older guy—ran over his foot.
Reginald Weathers (Bandidos, from court testimony at his bail hearing): My president and vice president tried to back in, and immediately the Cossacks on the porch came out and started pushing their bikes [away], saying they couldn't park there. [Cossacks] kept coming off the patio, over the fence—60 to 100 guys. They were yelling at my president [and] my vice president.
Glenn (from his affidavit): Several of the Cossacks pulled their weapons, including handguns.
Anonymous Cossack #1: Of course, we're not gonna back down. We're men. One of our sergeants at arms—our guys in charge of security—said, “We can take our cuts [vests with club patches] off right now, and you and I can fight.” The guy says, “No, we're not doin' that.” Our sergeant at arms says, “Then let's go in and have a beer and talk about it.”
Bodies of slain bikers lie where they fell in the Twin Peaks parking lot. Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune Herald/Polaris.
John Wilson (Cossacks Motorcycle Club, McLennan County chapter president): It looked like it was all going to calm down.
Anonymous Cossack #2: And then somebody, I think it was a Bandido, said, “Don't talk to my president that way.”
Weathers (from court testimony): I said, “I don't think you need to talk to my president like that.” I didn't think it was very respectful. He hit me. My head got pulled down. There was a crowd of guys, and I couldn't see anything.
Anonymous Cossack #2: Fists flew, and it was game on. They went to the ground. Seconds later, I heard bang!
The Bandidos vs. The Cossacks
The Bandidos are terrorists. They execute people.
—Jon “Hondo” Moses, Cossacks, Hill County chapter
The Cossacks are a bunch of inbred corn-fed dumb fucking hillbillies. That's my personal fucking opinion on those stupid asses.
The Bandidos were baptized in blood. They were founded in 1966 by an ex-Marine and Vietnam vet named Don Chambers, whose road name was Mother and who led the club until 1972, when he and two other men were convicted of double murder. They abducted two drug dealers who'd cheated the Bandidos on a meth deal, forced the dealers to dig their own graves in the Texas desert, then shot them and set fire to their bodies. Chambers's three successors were all taken down by the feds for a variety of offenses.
During the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s, the Bandidos did everything the feds continue to accuse them of doing today, including trafficking in narcotics and prostitution. But there hasn't been a major Bandidos bust since 2011, when 39 club members and associates were arrested in Dallas, San Antonio, and Denver on gun and drug charges.
Jeff Pike, the club's publicity-shy current president, has held office—mostly quietly—since 2005. “The ’60s are over,” one Bandido insisted to me.
Most bikers today, in Texas and elsewhere, are community-minded law-and-order Republicans—the less affluent, more racially diverse descendants of the Elks and the Knights of Columbus.
This includes Bandidos. But as “one-percenters,” the Bandidos also exist in a category apart from most other clubs. More of a boast than an admission of criminal intent, “one-percenter” is a reference to a long-ago line attributed to the American Motorcyclist Association that 99 percent of motorcycle owners are decent, law-abiding citizens. It's unclear whether the Bandidos are, as the feds continue to insist, an organized-crime enterprise, but it is likely that they tolerate a minority of members who are criminals and who use their brothers' loyalty as cover.
When I asked one Bandido whether his chapter would kick out a brother who was engaging in criminal activity, he replied cautiously: “It would be the best thing to do.”
Roadblock (with mic) of the Zealots motorcycle club takes roll call at a COC meeting in Frankston, Texas.
Today, as the dominant club in Texas, the Bandidos enforce order among the state's thousands of bikers.
“I have personally been around the Bandidos for thousands of hours and have never known them to be violent,” says Steve Cochran, founder and vice president of Sons of the South and a prominent spokesman for the Texas biker community. “There are certain responsibilities as the dominant club that you have to attend to. And one of those things is to disallow knuckleheads, like what showed up at Twin Peaks, to destroy the motorcycle-riding community in the state and to disallow their ability to function.”
Much less is known about the Cossacks, except that they were founded in 1969 in East Texas, and they are growing rapidly. They claim a current membership of about 800 members, which would make them the second-biggest club in Texas after the Bandidos.
Over the past two years, the Bandidos and Cossacks appear to have been engaged in a simmering power struggle.
In November 2013, two Cossacks were stabbed in a roadhouse parking lot in Abilene; the president of the local Bandidos chapter was arrested in connection with the assault. Earlier this year, on March 22, Cossacks allegedly forced a Bandido rider off I-35 in Lorena and beat him so brutally—with chains and metal pipes—that he nearly lost an eye. At a gas station in Mingus that same day, Bandidos confronted the Cossack son of a local politician and demanded that he remove the Texas “rocker,” or badge, from his cut. When he refused, they allegedly attacked him with a hammer.
The FBI and members of both clubs believe several additional clashes were never reported.
Steve Cochran (co-founder and vice president, Sons of the South): There are no Bandidos in Waco. The Cossacks arrived on the scene three or four years ago. They started flexing on all the other clubs in the area. They would claim they own Waco. They would harass all the other motorcycle clubs: “You can't ride here. This is our town.”
John Wilson (Cossacks): We never told anybody that Waco was a Cossack town, that nobody else was allowed to ride here. We were welcomed by all the different establishments. The only club that had a problem with us didn't have a chapter here.
There was a Bandidos chapter in Waco, oh, probably 12 years ago, but those guys were involved in a murder in a local bar, and after that, they got shut down.
Anonymous Bandido #2: Some Cossacks might be Klan members. They wear the lightning bolts.
Wilson: I don't know if anybody actually ever said S.S. lightning bolts were outlawed, but there are no white-supremacist patches allowed. If some guy sewed one on, he might not have got called on it yet.
Anonymous Cossack #1: The Bandidos invited us to [the COC meeting at Twin Peaks]. That's why we were there earlier than any other club. We were told, “This meeting is about us stopping all this crap.” The agreement was made by a Bandido named Marshall Mitchell.
Marshall Mitchell (Bandidos): That's a lie. That is an absolute lie.
They were never invited. Categorically absolute b.s. You can ask any motorcycle club in the world. You never bring 60 people to a meeting [as the Cossacks did; the Bandidos had about 20]. It's three people and three people, or two people and two people, and that's the way it is.
Glenn (from his affidavit): A Waco gang-intelligence officer learned that the Cossacks were upset that the Bandidos changed the location of the [May 17 COC] meeting to “their territory.”
The Cossacks made the decision to take a stand and attend the meeting uninvited.
12:24 P.M., MAY 17, 2015
TWIN PEAKS RESTAURANT
The police were already there as the rest of the clubs arrived that morning. “They're circling like buzzards on a dead deer,” one biker told me.
“I look at the people I was riding with, and I said, ‘This don't look right.’ ” Afterward, said the Cossacks' John Wilson, “a Waco spokesman was touting the quick 40-second response time of the police, when that was obviously false. They were here.”
The bikers believe this provides a clue to the Waco P.D.'s ongoing silence: The cops know their response was overzealous, possibly unlawful, and now they're covering it up. Some bikers believe there's an even more sinister explanation: that a firefight of some kind was supposed to happen—that it was all part of a plan by the Waco P.D. to provoke bitter rivals into a public brawl that could be violently crushed and then used as a basis for sweeping RICO indictments.
“We basically walked into an ambush,” says the Cossacks' Jon “Hondo” Moses. “The die was cast as soon as we rode into that parking lot.”
Wilson: I didn't see who fired the first shot. I was told it was a Bandido firing into the ground, trying to break up a fistfight.
Anonymous Cossack #2: I thought it was just a warning shot from somebody. I was dazed. I stood in place. I thought they had fired a gun in the air to make everything stop.
Anonymous Cossack #1: I felt a concussion from the pistol. It was a black semiautomatic.
Anonymous motorcycle-club member: We heard a pop. Then a few more pops. Your feet start to act. There's pops from the rear, from the front, on the far side. It's like being in a war zone.
Anonymous Cossack #2: I heard projectiles zinging past me, but I didn't hear no gun going off. It was either a silenced weapon or a very suppressed weapon in the distance. I've never been so scared in my life.
Unidentified Waco P.D. officer #1 (from radio traffic): Dispatch units soonest—Twin Peaks! Shots fired, several people down!
Anonymous Cossack #1: One [shot] killed Richie, our regional sergeant at arms. Another went through the neck of our sergeant at arms. This Bandido jumped off his bike and attacked him. He was beatin' the crap out of my S.A., right? He had gloves with lead in 'em. But when my S.A. got on top of him—he's a good ol' boy—this other Bandido came up from behind with a pistol and shot him in the neck. Well, we assume he was a Bandido—he wasn't with us. (2) My S.A. lived. He was very lucky. I pulled myself in underneath my motorcycle, making myself as small a target as possible. I was just breathing and hoping it would end soon. I just kept hearing shots. Long-distance.
Anonymous motorcycle-club member: Now, the first two or three pops—me and half my crew being ex-military, we know what small-arms fire from pistols sounds like. We also know what squad automatic weapons [typically used by the military and law enforcement] sound like. After the third pop, it was nothing but squad automatic weapons.
Anonymous Cossack #1: I got shot, and I didn't know it until it started burning. I looked down and saw a hole. It was bleeding pretty bad. I wadded my shirt and held it and yelled out, “I'm hit!” Then I saw Diesel [a fellow Cossack] get shot in the forehead. He also took cover next to me. He wasn't shooting or nothing.
Anonymous Cossack #2: I watched the top of Diesel's head come off and land on another dude's jeans. I was probably ten yards away from where it happened. And his son was standing right there beside him and watched it happen. Watched his dad die. Another brother of mine had a gut-shot hole I could've stuck my thumb in. He had Diesel's brains on his pant leg.
Weathers (from court testimony): I was shot, I have no clue by who. It went through my right arm into my chest. I'm on a blood thinner, so it's a big deal to get hit. I ran for the other side of the vehicles parked near the Don Carlos Mexican restaurant to find some cover.
Anonymous Cossack #2: I'd guess the shooting lasted two to three minutes, but when you got bullets flying over your head, three minutes is a long time. I will never forget any of that. Nothing I'd seen in the Marines had really prepared you for that. I have a couple of friends in the Cossacks who've done three tours in Iraq. They're like, “I've never seen no shit like this before.”
Unidentified Waco P.D. officer #2 (from radio traffic): Do not send an ambulance! Have 'em stage [nearby]. This place is hot!
Wilson: The police rounded everybody up and marched us out and through the carnage in the parking lot. We were detained, but we weren't cuffed. We were just sitting there and trying to take care of our wounded.
Bear was shot in the abdomen and the legs. Rattle Can was shot in his torso, and he was bleeding bad and had even started to convulse while he was there on the ground while officers stood around with rifles pointed at us. Rattle Can was laying there in a lot of pain, and my son and others were over there, trying to stick bandannas in bullet holes. He was able to talk for a while, but before they picked him up, he had slipped into unconsciousness. That's really all I want to say about that.
Anonymous Cossack #1: I was losing a lot of blood. I started to lose consciousness at that point. A member of the Boozefighters came up and helped me. He ignored the protocols of “stay with your club”; he must have been an EMT or first responder. He told the guy to apply pressure, took shirts off and whatnot. He was saving lives.
Wilson: Not a single law-enforcement person lifted a finger to help any of the wounded. And they made it pretty clear that they were going to be violent if we tried to take our guys to the ambulance. Three men were bleeding out before our eyes. If those men were still alive 30, 40 minutes after being shot, they could have been saved.
A prospect named Trainer from out of Tarrant County chapter was shot. They zip-tied him and laid him on the ground next to a Bandido they had handcuffed. I noticed him jerk a few times, laying there. We were sitting there, 30 feet from him, and weren't able to help him.
About two hours later, somebody walked over, looked at him, and covered him with a yellow sheet.
Patches 101 : What Does “ACAB” Mean?
Bikers take their patches very seriously. And many patches mean different things to different clubs. Here’s a taxonomy of the ones whose origins we could decode.
1.The thirteenth letter of the alphabet, for motorcycle (or, say, meth
) | 2. City chapter
| 3. Nametag
| 4. The Mark of the Beast
| 5. “Bandidos Forever, Forever Bandidos”
| 6. “All Cops Are Bastards”
| 7. “Fuck the World”
| 8. As distinct from the 99 percent of bikers who are law-abiding
| 9. Rank or title |
10. Genesis 4:9, paraphrased
| 11. Protesting the steep bail bonds and glacial processing of the Waco D.A. | 12. Minimum 15 pieces of personal flair. We want you to express yourself, okay?
Collectively the back patches are known as the “colors.” This is the “top rocker.”
| 12. The “bottom rocker” claims the club’s territory. According to some accounts, a dispute over the right to wear the Texas rocker might’ve helped provoke the shoot-out.
| 13. It’s rumored that Bandidos founder Don Chambers chose this “fat Mexican” insignia to be more racially inclusive than the then predominantly white Hells Angels. It’s clumsy and racially tone-deaf, but the Bandidos do have many Hispanic members. |
14. “Motorcycle Club”
The Waco P.D.
Sergeant Patrick Swanton, the Waco Police Department's affably officious spokesman, gave seven press conferences in the first three days after the shootings. He became a minor media celebrity.
With so little evidence available to the public, Swanton had complete control of the narrative, and he took the opportunity to declare, repeatedly, that the COC meeting at Twin Peaks had been a criminal gathering and that every biker who attended was a gang member.
When a reporter observed that many bikers had disputed these claims, Swanton was dismissive. “They lied,” he said. The dead men ranged in age from 27 to 65: seven Cossacks, one Bandido, and one unaffiliated biker—the 65-year-old—who was an ex-Marine recipient of the Purple Heart for service in Vietnam.
By his final press conference, Swanton seemed to be struggling to defend his early characterizations of the clubs. A reporter asked, “Can you please respond to criticism…that not all 170 [jailed bikers] are criminals, that a lot of [them] are totally innocent and had nothing to do with the shooting?” “No, I can't respond to that,” Swanton shot back, then hastily moved on.
For a while, Swanton continued posting press releases about the shootings on the Waco P.D.'s Facebook page, but all of them have since been deleted.
The Texas Department of Public Safety did its part to ramp up hysteria, leaking a “confidential bulletin” to CNN alleging that Bandidos in active military service were arming their chapters with grenades and C4 explosives so that they could retaliate against the police. One of the DPS's sources was a club called the Black Widows, which does not exist except in the 1978 movie Every Which Way But Loose. In response, one biker blog jeered: “Waco Police Now Claim They Are Being Attacked by Clint Eastwood and An Orangutan Named Clyde.”
Any attempt to try to piece together exactly how the nine bikers died—whose guns fired the fatal shots—requires wading into JFK-assassination levels of paranoia and confusion. For instance, members of multiple clubs have claimed that when the shooting started, two Cossacks stood up inside the restaurant, took off their cuts, and put on badges. Were they undercover cops waiting for a fight to break out, and if so, did they play a part in instigating it? Other witnesses have said that a Waco cop wearing a Cossacks cut was firing shots, then helped make arrests afterward.
According to Waco police chief Brent Stroman, only three of his 16 officers discharged their weapons, firing a total of 12 rounds. But eyewitnesses dispute that figure, as does the owner of the adjacent Don Carlos restaurant, who has claimed that “thousands of bullet rounds” were fired. Could it be that the department's numbers don't include shots from its undercover officers? And if the bikers were firing at police, as alleged, why hasn't the Waco P.D. released any hard evidence to prove it?
“Harried handgun fights are usually a pretty inaccurate situation,” says Cossacks chapter president John Wilson. “Head shots happen by mistake, if at all. Someone got lucky. To have that many guys hit with torso shots and head shots—in my experience, I would say that indicates you had trained people with long rifles and optical sights. That's accurate, aimed fire.” (3)
A rival Bandido, who declined to be named, reached the same conclusion: “Seven of the nine [dead] were head shots or chest shots. Who trains for that? Who?”
From left: Soldiers for Jesus president Woody Woodward; the Comanche Warriors of Athens, Texas.
The Waco 177
The volume of arrests at Twin Peaks completely overwhelmed the city's criminal-processing system. Many of the Waco 177 waited days to be provided with a lawyer while the desperate court system sought help from neighboring cities.
“Like if you were in a fast-food restaurant and three buses pulled up,” a local judge named Billy Ray Stubblefield told the Waco Tribune, “and all the kids want their food just as fast as they normally do.”
It's still unclear why so many of the bikers were arrested in the first place, when it appears that so few of them were actually involved in the shoot-out.
Three bikers were arrested despite arriving after the shooting stopped; Swanton later said it was because they were carrying guns—legally, as it later appeared—and because they were “wearing the colors of criminal gang members.”
Swanton, meanwhile, is now trying to parlay his elevated profile into a run for county sheriff.
Wilson: We were lined up and zip-tied, had our shoes taken from us and our belts and anything in our pockets. We were taken to the Waco Convention Center, where we were set on the floor, and we spent the next 18 or so hours there.
Anonymous motorcycle-club member: They ask me to identify my belongings that are in a big old pile of shit. It's like 177 bags, no names on them.
Matt Clendennen (Scimitars Motorcycle Club): Chair, floor—wherever we could find to sleep is where we slept, with our hands tied behind our backs. I didn't sleep much.
Anonymous motorcycle-club member: At two or three in the morning, I had my zip ties popped off for about four minutes so that I could pee. Then they put a new set on, just as tight, and brought us a piece of fried chicken and a little bitty cup of water. Have you ever tried to eat something with your hands behind your back?
Wilson: They took our clothes and put us in jail uniforms and stood us in front of a camera and told us we were on a $1 million bond and snapped our picture. I was in shock. The vast, vast majority of those people committed no crime. I kept thinking, There's some mistake.
Anonymous Cossack #2: To get out on a $1 million bond, it'll cost $100,000. How many people can just pull that out of their pocket?
Wilson: I was in jail 28 days. My son was in for 37. We're not wealthy people, so it took a lot longer for him to get his bond reduced.
Anonymous Cossack #2: I was in for 27 days. We had our bad moments, you know, when we'd get off the phone from talking to our wives or loved ones and be very down.
Wilson: Some of these guys were on PTSD medications that they were denied in jail. One of our guys was ten months out of Afghanistan, and it was very hard on him. I saw him break down several times.
Anonymous Cossack #2: They dropped my bond down to $250,000. My lawyer screamed and screamed; they dropped it down to $65,000. Here's my wife trying to raise up 10 percent to get me out of jail, and I only got to talk to her once a day for 15 minutes.
Clendennen: When I got out, I was in a hurry to pick my son up on his last day of school. My wife told him I was on a business trip, because he's 4 years old and his understanding of going to jail is you've done something wrong. We have a minivan, and my wife opened the door, and I was sitting in the backseat.
He was surprised and overjoyed and confused all at the same time. The next morning, I had to get back to my job. When he woke up, he was real upset that I wasn't there. It hit him real heavy. He was thinking I was going to be gone again.
Anonymous Cossack #2: We have one guy that was a United Airlines pilot. For years. He lost his whole career.
Anonymous motorcycle-club member:
When you get out of jail after being gone for 30 days, you don't have a job anymore. I got fired. Nobody wants to hire an electrician with a class 1 felony charge pending above his head.
The Waco Justice System
“The city of Waco is looking at paying out hundreds of millions of dollars,” says Michael White, Wilson's attorney. “I don't think we've ever seen something on the scale of 175-plus people being arrested for something they did not do.” To survive the storm, the city's legal strategy seems to be to pressure the Waco 177 into pleading guilty to minor infractions for time served; this would preclude the bikers from being able to sue for wrongful imprisonment.
Justice of the peace Walter “Pete” Peterson's across-the-board imposition of $1 million bonds—“to send a message,” he said—was almost certainly illegal. Waco P.D. officer Manuel Chavez later admitted in court that Peterson signed all 177 of the so-called cookie-cutter probable-cause affidavits in bulk, without specifying the evidence against each individual defendant. Peterson, it turns out, is a former state trooper with no legal training.
Nevertheless, the Waco 177 still have their work cut out for them.
The judge in the case, Matt Johnson, is the former law partner of district attorney Abel Reyna. Incredibly, the foreman of the first grand jury to be convened, James Head, is a Waco P.D. detective. “He was chosen totally at random, like the law says,” Reyna insisted to local reporters. If this seems brazen, consider that the commission to appoint jurors was originally going to be led by Reyna's own father. Reyna only backed down under pressure, acquiescing to the process that led to Head's selection.
Asked why he'd permit an active police officer to lead a grand jury investigating possible police misconduct, state district judge Ralph Strother said, “I just thought, ‘Well, he's qualified. He knows the criminal-justice system.’ ”
On his first day as a grand juror, Head wore his badge and service pistol. Later, when a reporter asked him if he'd taken part in the Waco operation, Head responded: “Not really.”