Jacob Carrizal led members of the Dallas Bandidos chapter into the Twin Peaks parking lot and was at the forefront when the battle began with the Cossacks, a rival motorcycle group, a motorcycle gang expert testified Monday.
Douglas Pearson, a policeman from Colorado assigned to a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives motorcycle gang task force, spent his third partial day on the stand Monday in Carrizal’s trial in Waco’s 54th State District Court.
Carrizal, 35, an employee of the Dallas, Garland and Northeastern Railroad, is charged with directing the activities of a criminal street gang and two counts of engaging in organized criminal activity. He is the first of the 154 bikers indicted in the Twin Peaks shootout to stand trial.
Pearson spent most of his time on the stand Monday under cross-examination from Carrizal’s attorney, Casie Gotro, who is trying to impress on the jury the defense theory that the Cossacks, not the Bandidos, were the aggressors that day, that the Cossacks put a bounty on Bandidos members and set a trap for the Bandidos at Twin Peaks by crashing a meeting of a biker coalition of which they were not members.
Pearson, who made it clear in his testimony that he would not change his opinion that the Bandidos are a criminal street gang, said he saw the skirmish as “tit-for-tat, gang-on-gang violence.” He said the Cossacks also are a criminal street gang in his estimation.
Under questioning from Gotro, Pearson, a 26-year law enforcement veteran, said he has seen evidence on Carrizal’s cellphone where he urged Bandidos to “bring their tools,” or guns, don’t travel alone, leave the women at home, don’t tolerate disrespect and “this is the life we have chosen.”
Gotro asked if if those sentiments aren’t a far cry from the evidence indicating Cossacks advocating violence against the Bandidos, showing up at Twin Peaks wearing bulletproof vests and ambushing the Bandidos before they could dismount their motorcycles at Twin Peaks.
“Does that not tell you that one side was the aggressor and the other side was not?” Gotro asked. “Is it not significant to you that the president of one group is telling members to send members of another group to the hospital?”
Both sides showed up ready to engage in battle, Pearson said.
Gotro asked if he didn’t think it wise for the Bandidos to carry weapons when members had a bounty on their heads and had been assaulted by Cossacks in March 2015 on Interstate 35, prompting state troopers to beef up patrols along the route to curtail biker violence.
Gotro showed a Cossacks sticker to the jury that she said clearly is meant as an affront to the Bandidos. The sticker said, “Hide and Seek Champions 2015,” and Gotro said it shows the Cossacks were calling out the Bandidos, but the Bandidos were not responding.
Pearson reiterated that, in his opinion, the problems between the two groups escalated when the Cossacks decided to wear “Texas” bottom rocker patches on their vests without getting permission from the Bandidos, who claim the Lone Star State as their territory.
Gotro showed the jury a post from a Cossacks vice president in July 2014 that said the Cossacks were going to wear the rockers and that the two groups could coexist.
Pearson, however, said he has seen emails from Bandidos leaders who were not so keen with that arrangement.
Pearson told Gotro that Carrizal led a group of Bandidos into the Twin Peaks parking lot and didn’t seem intimidated by the Cossacks, who outnumbered the Bandidos by a wide margin. He couldn’t see who threw the first punch, but it occurred in the area where Carrizal stopped his motorcycle, Pearson said.
Gotro asked him why law enforcement, who was aware of the ongoing violence between the groups, didn’t stop the Coalition of Clubs and Independents from meeting at Twin Peaks that day. Pearson said Waco police made efforts to stop the meeting, but said they can’t just stop people from traveling about freely when they are committing no crimes.
After Pearson left the stand, Gotro asked Judge Matt Johnson to strike his testimony from the record in its entirety. The judge rejected her motion.
In testimony Monday afternoon, prosecutors laid the groundwork for the admission of biker cellphone records by calling a Waco police officer, a retired police officer and an evidence technician. Waco police collected a total of 211 cellphones from the bikers and analyzed their contents or sent them to a lab in New Jersey for analysis.
Prosecutors had to recall one of the police witnesses, Daniel Harper, after Gotro testified that his name was not on a witness list provided by District Attorney Abel Reyna’s office.
She complained several times before trial that prosecutors had given her a potential witness list of 600 names. Eventually, that list was pared to 450, but Gotro still complained that it was not a realistic number.
Harper left the stand temporarily until Johnson granted the state permission for a last-second amendment to its witness list. Harper was a necessary witness in the state’s attempt to prove proper chain-of-custody in the handling of the cellphones.
Prosecution testimony resumes at 9 a.m. Tuesday.