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State rests case in Carrizal Twin Peaks trial after brother's testimony

Prosecutors rested their case against Jacob Carrizal on Tuesday after testimony from Carrizal’s younger brother that showed Jacob Carrizal was aware of conflicts between Bandidos and Cossacks, and told his fellow Bandidos to bring their guns to Waco and leave their women at home.

Judge Matt Johnson recessed the trial about 11 a.m. Tuesday until 1 p.m. Wednesday to give Jacob Carrizal and his attorneys, Casie Gotro and Thomas Lane, a chance to line up witnesses.

Prosecutors have called 49 witnesses and introduced more than 1,200 pieces of evidence during 15 days of testimony.

“Well, I think we are finally going to get to hear the rest of that story,” Gotro said after the trial recessed. “We are looking forward to it.”

Gotro declined to say how many witnesses she intends to call or if Jacob Carrizal will testify. She said the trial should conclude this week.

Jacob Carrizal, 35, president of the Dallas Bandidos chapter, is charged in 54th State District Court with directing the operations of a criminal street gang and two counts of engaging in organized criminal activity.

The prosecution closed out its case by calling Carrizal’s younger brother, Chuck Carrizal, a Dallas funeral director and also a member of the Bandidos.

Under questioning from prosecutor Michael Jarrett, the younger Carrizal said he was a member of the Desgraciados, a Bandidos support group, before becoming a member of the Bandidos about 18 months ago.

Jarrett showed the jury a series of text messages from Jacob Carrizal to other Bandidos, including one that warned a large group of Cossacks was riding through an area of Texas. A text from March 25, 2015, showed Jacob Carrizal instructing other Bandidos to tell their “old ladies” not to spread word about their whereabouts.

Chuck Carrizal said that while the Bandidos had no problems with the Cossacks, the text message was sent because the Cossacks were “messing” with them.

Through her questioning, Gotro has tried to show the Cossacks were the aggressors the day of the Twin Peaks shootout and that they laid a trap and ambushed the Bandidos, who merely acted to defend themselves.

Jarrett showed a text message from Manuel Rodriguez, a Bandido known as “Candyman” who was shot and killed at Twin Peaks. The text showed a Cossacks logo with a line through it, indicating to Jarrett that the Bandidos did have problems with the Cossacks.

Other texts between former Bandidos chapter President Dave Martinez and Jacob Carrizal, in which they talk about Cossacks hanging out at a bar, also show the friction between the Cossacks and Bandidos, Jarrett said.

On May 16, 2015, the day before the Twin Peaks shootout, Jacob Carrizal notified Bandidos that he wants everyone to come to Waco and leave their women at home. A biker gang expert testified earlier in the trial that the groups don’t bring their wives or girlfriends with them if they expect violence to erupt.

Jacob Carrizal sent a text that says “5/17 Bro.” The next morning, he sent texts telling members to bring their tools. Jarrett asked Chuck Carrizal what “tools” means, and he said it means items like screwdrivers and pliers. Jarrett asked if he ever heard anyone refer to guns as tools. Chuck Carrizal said no.

“Police searched the motorcycles there that day,” Jarrett said. “Would it surprise you to know that nobody brought a tool kit with them that day?”

Police found 154 firearms and more than 400 other weapons, including knives, clubs, a tomahawk and brass knuckles, after the skirmish that left nine bikers dead and more than 20 injured.

Jarrett asked Chuck Carrizal to stand up and show the jury his Bandidos belt buckle, which says “BFFB.” He said that means “Bandidos Forever, Forever Bandidos.” Jarrett asked the younger Carrizal about his brother’s vest, which Jarrett said had no “Expect No Mercy” patch before the Twin Peaks shootout but featured one afterward.

State gang experts testified that the patch can only be earned by committing an act of violence.

During cross-examination, Gotro asked Chuck Carrizal if he is aware that prosecutors are accusing him and his brother of being gang members.

“Do you and your brother go around together committing crimes?” Gotro asked. He said no.

Chuck Carrizal said his family grew up in El Paso and his brother moved to Dallas to work as an engineer for a railroad company. Chuck Carrizal said he moved to Dallas later, went to school and became a funeral director.

Gotro told Chuck Carrizal the “truth is not going to hurt your brother” and asked him again if he knew his brother was talking about guns when he referred to them as tools in the text. He said yes.

He agreed with Gotro that I-35 is not a safe place to ride, and people regularly carry guns when they travel. He said if he had known Jacob Carrizal and his father, Christopher Julian Carrizal, would get in a big brawl, he would have come to Waco, too, to help protect them.

He said they did not expect any violence at a meeting of the Confederation of Clubs and Independents, which was scheduled that day at Twin Peaks, although he said he had never seen any Cossacks at those meetings before.

He became emotional when he talked about learning that his father was wounded and hospitalized and his brother was in jail. He said he and his mother drove to Waco after the shootout to see them.

Zach Carrizal, another brother of Jacob Carrizal, testified earlier in the trial. Both brothers said they were reluctant to testify because many people do not understand the biker lifestyle. Zach Carrizal is president of a Bandidos chapter in Ruidoso, New Mexico.

On redirect, Jarrett noted the differences in Chuck Carrizal’s answers when asked about what tools means. Jarrett said Jacob Carrizal and the Bandidos were aware of conflicts between the two groups, and he told Bandidos to come armed to the meeting.

“Are we supposed to believe they were surprised when a gun fight happened?” Jarrett asked.

Chuck Carrizal repeated that they did not expect violence at the meeting.

Jarrett showed Chuck Carrizal a photo of his brother with his blue Harley-Davidson and yellow and black helmet with yellow-tinted visor.

A former Twin Peaks employee testified she saw a man in a “big yellow helmet” fire the first shot while surrounded by Cossacks.

Shaniqua Corsey testified she saw bikers “gathered around in a fight circle” and arguing. She said the man in the “big yellow helmet” pulled a large handgun that she described as a “long, ‘Dirty Harry’-type pistol” and shot a biker standing in front of him.

Photos introduced by prosecutors show a dead biker lying near Jacob Carrizal’s overturned blue motorcycle at the center of where the violence erupted.

Corsey said her attention was focused on the biker in the yellow helmet because he was arguing and appeared to be the one in charge.

Police: Man sold heroin just before violent encounter with officers

A man police say ran over a Waco SWAT officer this summer had sold heroin to a confidential informant just before the violent encounter that left the man dead and the officer seriously injured, according to a newly released police report.

An 86-page police report obtained by the Tribune-Herald in an open records request states Kerry Bradley, 37, of Waco, was under investigation for suspected heroin distribution in and around his neighborhood in the 3200 block of North 24th Street. Bradley also had 12 capsules of heroin on him when he was killed, according to the report.

On Aug. 1, drug enforcement and SWAT officers were attempting to serve a search warrant on Bradley.

“I had been briefed that we were going to attempt to intercept a drug dealer after a deal to a person,” police reports state. “(It was reported) that the sale had been called in and the suspect was leaving his residence and (was) driving a white GMC SUV.”

Police reports state officers responded after the drug sale was made and attempted to surround Bradley’s car. Records state Bradley intentionally ran over Waco police Officer William Graeber, an eight-year police veteran.

“Officers has been approaching the vehicle from the front, and the suspect moved around and struck one the the officers with the front of the GMC, knocking him to the ground and running him over,” the report states. “I learned that Officer Graeber was the officer that was run over and he somehow became entangled on the drivetrain and was being dragged under the vehicle.”

Police fatally shot Bradley six times, an autopsy report states. He was later pronounced dead at Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Center.

Police reports state officers attempted to lift the SUV off the injured officer and administer first aid. Graeber was seriously injured and remained hospitalized about three weeks.

Police found 12 capsules of heroin in Bradley’s car that weighed a total of 2 grams, the reports state. Officials have said no videos of the actual shooting exist because none of the police vehicles on scene were equipped with in-car cameras.

Bradley’s wife, Brittany Bradley, said she questions the police reports and was previously told by police that Bradley did not have any drugs on him.

“I have a thousand other questions as to why this happened, why there is no transparency, why there is no video, why there were no dash camera videos, and in all of this, how did this happen?” she said. “Was his vehicle ever really stopped? What went wrong? And things witnesses have told me don’t match up with what police say happened.”

Brittany Bradley said her husband was not selling drugs and had been to his mother’s house before the fatal shooting. She said he had only been gone a few minutes before she heard gunfire, but she was turned away by police when she went to the scene to check on her husband.

“None of this makes sense,” Brittany Bradley said. “Every day I want to die. I just want to be with my husband, because they took everything from me.”

She said she does not believe police reports stating drugs were found on her husband. She and her family have reached out to a civil attorney and are considering filing legal action against the city, she said.

“All I have are a bunch of pictures and no answers as to why he is not here. He is supposed to be here,” Brittany Bradley said. “I can’t think to do anything but cry, be depressed, be angry, hurt, sad, frustrated and confused with no clear answers.”

Colcord Halloween tradition strolls on with city support

A North Waco Halloween tradition ran into a scare this year with city of Waco event regulations but got a last-minute assist from the city itself.

The grassroots event known as Halloween on Colcord featured hordes of trick-or-treaters, mounds of candy and volunteers cooking up more than 1,000 hot dogs Tuesday.

But on the eve of Halloween, it appeared the city would not be closing off Colcord for the event, which drew an estimated 1,500 last year. That’s because the city said the event needed an “activity permit,” along with event insurance and four police officers.

The problem was that that no one was truly in charge of the festivities, not even the Sanger Heights Neighborhood Association, which has provided volunteers and funding for several years. No one was willing to sign off on the event insurance.

“It’s unusual in that it’s not really an event, and no one is really responsible,” said Luann Jennings, interim president of the neighborhood association. “They’re going to come whether we prepare for it or not.”

But after discussions between Colcord residents, the parks department and Councilman Dillon Meek, City Manager Dale Fisseler said Thursday morning that the city would close the street from 21st to 25th Street, provide the officers and sign off on the insurance paperwork. Donations from the neighborhood association and Antioch Community Church helped pay for the insurance.

Fisseler said the city has closed the street for several years, and it has helped make trick-or-treating safer.

“I see this as a safety benefit to the neighborhood,” Fisseler said. “It’s a good event and helps neighbors get to know each other, and that has an impact on crime.”

Meek said the city and neighbors will have time to plan for next year’s closure, but he said he was pleased Fisseler took the action to close the street for safety reasons.

Jennings said she was grateful for the decision.

“I think it helps make everybody safer, and I think it’s great the city was willing to do that,” she said.

Street closed

The city has closed Colcord on Halloween since 2013, and in the past the neighborhood association has gotten an activity permit without having to have insurance, former association president Fernando Arroyo said. Last year, the association paid for a single police officer at the city’s request.

Colcord Avenue, with its stately houses dating back to the early 20th century, has been a Halloween destination for as long as anyone can remember.

Ed Braig, who lives at Colcord and 22nd Street, said it was one reason he moved to the neighborhood 27 years ago.

“I moved here from Houston, and I was real hesitant about moving into the Sanger Heights neighborhood,” Braig said. “In October, someone told me, go down and look at those houses. I went down there on Halloween and parked my car on 22nd Street, and I stood there in awe. I never could have believed that many kids would be in that neighborhood.”

After that revelation, Braig decided to buy his house and raise a family on Colcord, and now he looks forward to every Oct. 31. For this year’s event, he stocked up with more than 1,000 pieces of candy and decorated his house with a giant dragon.

County files lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies over opioid epidemic

McLennan County’s rate of prescription opioid distribution is higher than state and national averages, a fact that helped prompt county commissioners to file a lawsuit Tuesday against the country’s largest opioid manufacturers and wholesale distributors.

County commissioners retained the law firms of Haley & Olson P.C., and Harrison Davis Steakley Morrison Jones P.C. in what commissioners say is a first step toward holding companies responsible for flooding the community with prescription opioids and fueling an opioid-abuse epidemic by prioritizing profits over people.

For every 100 people in McLennan County, 77 opioid prescriptions were dispensed in 2015, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The state average for the class of painkillers was 59.8 prescriptions per 100 people, and the national average was 70.6 prescriptions per 100 people, Haley & Olson attorney Craig D. Cherry said.

The two firms will receive a third of any settlement or judgment recovered against the pharmaceutical companies, County Administrator Dustin Chapman said. If the county does not get a favorable result, the firms will not be paid, he said.

McLennan County Judge Scott Felton said everyone has friends or family who have been impacted by the epidemic.

“The commissioners want to be leaders in this fight against an epidemic that has affected McLennan County citizens of all races and socio-economic groups,” Felton said. “Simply put, opioid addiction and the corresponding effects of opioid addiction do not discriminate. We want to help put a stop to this and recoup taxpayer dollars that have been expended in numerous ways to combat this epidemic.”

The lawsuit could take years to resolve, Cherry said.

“The opioid epidemic has created a tremendous burden for counties across the country,” he said. “McLennan County is no exception to that rule.”

Felton said he believes the two law firms are the right ones for the job.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday afternoon in the U.S. District Court Western District, Waco division. Defendants listed include: Purdue Pharma LP, Purdue Pharma Inc., The Purdue Frederick Company, Cephalon Inc., Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., Johnson & Johnson, Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. n/k/a Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., Janssen Pharmaceutica Inc. n/k/a Janssen, Endo Health Solutions Inc., Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc., Abbott Laboratories, Knoll Pharmaceutical Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Abbott Laboratories, Watson Laboratories Inc., Actavis LLC, Actavis Pharma Inc. f/k/a Watson Pharma Inc., Insys Therapeutics Inc., Pfizer Inc., McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health Inc. and AmerisourceBergen Corp.

There have been a substantial number of overdose deaths as a result, in whole or part, of opioid ingestion, and opioid addiction is one of the primary reasons county residents seek substance abuse treatment, according to the lawsuit.

Manufacturing companies have pushed highly addictive, dangerous opioids falsely representing to doctors that patients would only rarely succumb to drug addiction, while the distributors breached their legal duties to monitor, detect, investigate, refuse and report suspicious orders of prescription opioids, commissioners said in a press release. The economic burden caused by opioid abuse in the United States is about $78.5 billion, including from lost productivity, an increased need for social services, increased health insurance costs, increased criminal justice presence, strain on judicial resources, and substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation, according to the release. The two law firms are evaluating what type of financial impact the epidemic has had on McLennan County, but they believe the cost has been in the millions of dollars, Cherry said.

Both firms have been contacted by a number of other counties throughout the state, he said.

“We are evaluating those cases at this time,” Cherry said. “My belief is that we will be asked to represent additional counties going forward.”

Other counties’ cases would be separate from McLennan County’s, but there is a chance they could be consolidated as they move forward, he said.

‘Cried with my clients’

The CDC has provided fairly concrete and scientific information regarding the opioid problem in McLennan County, said Herb Bristow, another Haley & Olson attorney.

County leaders asked the firm to look into whether there was an issue in McLennan County, Bristow said.

Matt Morrison, a Harrison Davis Steakley Morrison Jones attorney, said his litigation experience has brought him face to face with victims of the opioid crisis.

“I have cried with my clients. I have represented families of people who have died from the epidemic,” Morrison said. “It is overwhelming and it is across the country.”

Health care providers in the United States wrote more than 289 million prescriptions for opioids in 2016, enough for every adult in the nation to have more than one bottle of pills, according to the lawsuit.

Opioids used to treat moderate to severe pain include oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine and methadone, according to the CDC. Some opioid brand names include OxyContin, Vicodin, Opana, Percocet, Percodan, Roxicodone and Avinza.

Fentanyl is an opioid typically approved to treat advanced cancer pain. Heroin is an illegal opioid that has seen increased use in the U.S. among many demographics, according to the CDC.

The prescription opioid-abuse epidemic did not occur by chance, the lawsuit states.

“Defendants falsely and misleadingly downplayed the serious risk of addiction … exaggerated the effectiveness of screening tools in preventing addiction, claimed opioid dependence and withdrawal are easily managed, … promoted highly addictive opioids through souvenirs and toys,” according to the lawsuit.

Misrepresentations by the defendants led doctors and patients to discount risks of the drugs, the suit states.

“Some of the repercussions for residents of McLennan County include job loss, loss of custody of children, physical and mental health problems, homelessness and incarceration, which results in instability in communities often already in economic crisis and contributes to increased demand on community services such as hospitals, courts, child services, treatment centers and law enforcement.”

Morrison said it would be the law firms’ privilege to bring the fight against opioid abuse to McLennan County. “The county has been damaged, and we need to help make that right,” he said.

More than six out of 10 drug overdose deaths in the nation involve an opioid, according to the CDC. The amount of prescription opioids sold to pharmacies, hospitals and doctors’ offices nearly quadrupled from 1999 to 2010, according to the CDC. Opioid deaths have quadrupled since 1999. On average, 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, according to the CDC.

McLennan County commissioners voted 4-0 to file the suit. Precinct 2 Commissioner Lester Gibson was not in attendance.

Other Texas counties have recently engaged in litigation against pharmaceutical companies concerning the opioid epidemic.

Lawyers with the Dallas-based firm Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett P.C. filed a similar suit on behalf of Upshur County on Sept. 29, making it the first lawsuit by a Texas governmental body against pharmaceutical companies for their role in the opioid epidemic, which was declared a national emergency by President Donald Trump last week. Bowie and Hopkins counties have since joined the firm’s suit.

“There is no denying that we have an opioid crisis in America and that the human misery and financial damage it causes is enormous,” said Jeffrey Simon, a Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett attorney, in a statement. “Although accidental overdoses have become the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50, the pharmaceutical industry has not been fully held accountable for its role in creating this epidemic.”