The attorney for a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent who filed suit against the Tribune-Herald over its coverage of the Branch Davidian cult is asking a federal judge to add KWTX-TV, Channel 10, as a defendant in the lawsuit.
Attorney Jim Dunnam said in his motion to U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith that the change is necessary “so that all proper parties relating to the cause of action alleged may be present before this court.” Smith has not yet ruled on the motion.
KWTX-TV President Tom Pears said Wednesday that he was not aware of the motion.
Special Agent John T. Risenhoover, one of the agents wounded in the abortive Feb. 28 raid at Mount Carmel, filed the original lawsuit March 18 in a Waco state district court. The lawsuit was moved to federal court at the request of the Tribune-Herald and its parent corporations, Cox Texas Publications Inc. and Cox Enterprises Inc., which also were named as defendants.
The lawsuit alleges that the newspaper broke an agreement to hold off on publication of a seven-part series about the Branch Davidians until after the ATF finished its investigation. The lawsuit also alleges that the newspaper, by having journalists in the vicinity of the compound on the day of the raid, helped alert the cultists that some action was coming.
Tribune-Herald Editor Bob Lott said the newspaper had no such agreement with the ATF.
Reporters and photographers from both the Tribune-Herald and KWTX-TV were stations in the area on the day of the raid.
According to some media reports, a television photographer warned a man whose vehicle had U.S. Postal Service plates to leave the vicinity of Mount Carmel because of the coming raid.
The mail carrier turned out to be cult member David Jones, according to attorney Dick DeGuerin, who represented cult leader Vernon Howell. DeGuerin said Jones warned Howell, also known as David Koresh, of what he had heard.
The Tribune-Herald began publishing its series Feb. 27, the day before the raid on the Branch Davidian compound near Elk. Four agents and at least five cult members died in the ensuing gunfire, and 16 federal agents were injured.
After the failed raid, a 51-day standoff ensued that ended with the Mount Carmel compound going up in flames April 19, killing at least 80 cultists.