A state district judge on Friday issued a temporary injunction against the city of Waco at the request of a Dallas radio station, ordering officials to retain the tape of a 9-1-1 call made by a cult member during the Feb. 28 federal raid.
City officials have refused to release the tape to KRLD radio after the station filed requests for the tape under the Freedom of Information Act and the Texas Open Records Act.
The refusal led the station to file a lawsuit against the city, seeking to prevent the city from turning over the tape to federal authorities investigating the deaths of four Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents killed in the failed raid.
More than 100 agents attempting to serve search and arrest warrants on cult leader Vernon Howell were repelled by gunfire from compound occupants.
Cult member and attorney Wayne Martin called the emergency phone number when the raid began, a city official said.
Judge Alan Mayfield of Waco’s 74th State District Court had set a hearing on the station’s motion but signed an agreed order instead after the parties negotiated a settlement.
Mayfield did not rule on whether the city must release the tape to the station. The parties are continuing negotiations, their attorneys said Friday, and hope to settle the issue without a hearing.
“The primary thing the city is trying to do right now is to sort out exactly what its responsibility is,” said Waco attorney Charles Olson, who represents the city. “It is the city’s responsibility to protect these tapes under certain circumstances, and under certain circumstances, they are open records.
“There are a lot of competing interests going on with the interests of the media and that of the judicial system and the investigation and so forth,” Olson said.
Charlie Seraphin, KRLD station manager, said the station wanted to make sure the city kept a copy, figuring it would be easier to get one from the city than federal authorities.
“We filed to get the tape, wanting to be able to put this information before the residents of the state of Texas before it was whisked off to a federal grand jury and who knows where and what,” Seraphin said.
Mayfield ordered that the city “maintain and shall not relinquish possession of the original or at least one copy of the tape recordings, and shall preserve the tape recordings in their original condition, protecting the tape recordings from damage, alteration or destruction, from the date of entry of this order until judgment in this case is entered by this court.”