The Bandidos Motorcycle Club released a statement Monday responding to police and other accounts of the May 17 shootout at Twin Peaks that killed nine people, injured another 20 and landed 177 people in jail.
Las Vegas attorney Stephen Stubbs, who said he is representing the national club solely for the purpose of constructing and distributing the release, called the violence “senseless, completely unnecessary and wrong.”
Stubbs described statements made by the Waco Police Department as “untrue,” citing the list of weapons, which now totals 488 and could still increase, as misleadingly high.
Police have said the list of weapons found on the scene includes 151 firearms — 12 of which were long guns — knives, brass knuckles, batons, tomahawks, weighted weapons, a hatchet, stun guns, bats, clubs, a machete, a pipe, an ax, pepper spray and a chain.
Stubbs argued that police have intentionally left out that the reason bikers were present that day was a regional meeting for the Texas Confederation of Clubs and Independents, which he said was scheduled in Waco so that various chapters of Texas clubs could conveniently access the location.
Legal documents filed in the case say the meeting of the Region 1 Confederation of Clubs and Independents was moved from Austin to the Twin Peaks in Waco, and that nearly all of the recent Region 1 COC&I meetings had been held in Austin. The documents allege it is not common for members of any of the other 11 COC&I regions in Texas to attend a regional meeting of another area of the Texas COC&I. Many of the 177 bikers arrested in the Twin Peaks shootout were from outside Region 1.
But Stubbs contends that was specifically the purpose of holding the meeting in Waco. He added that specific speakers were invited to the meeting so that multiple regions could discuss biker-related political issues in one forum. He said that because COC&I members from across the state were expected to attend this special meeting, it was purposefully scheduled in Waco because it’s a central city between Austin and Dallas.
Stubbs said police have consistently released information that denigrates the Bandidos and that their “false narrative is damaging to everyone involved.”
Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton has said the number and variety of weapons “indicates to the public that these are not (motorcycle) clubs, these are criminal gangs that came here with the intent or anticipation of violence.” The Texas Department of Public Safety has classified the Bandidos as a criminal street gang.
Calls for video release
Stubbs disputes the idea Bandidos members anticipated violence that day and called on the department to release video evidence and autopsy reports so the public can see what happened for themselves.
The preliminary autopsy reports were released days after the shooting and are publicly available, but the final written reports have not been completed, officials have said.
“I believe wholeheartedly that the Waco police have that information,” Stubbs said, adding that he thinks officials already know which caliber bullets killed which bikers.
He added, “The coroner has examined these bodies as much as he’s going to examine these bodies.”
Justice of the Peace W.H. “Pete” Peterson, who ordered the nine autopsies, said Tuesday that final autopsy results have not been returned and can take anywhere between a month to three months to return to his office.
“They do a complete autopsy, and toxicology is part of it,” he said. “The lab work is usually what takes the longest.”
He said that the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office also prioritizes their own county’s cases, aside from receiving work from other non-medical examiner counties like McLennan.
“It just takes time,” he said.
The preliminary autopsy results, which were returned in the first few days following the shooting, show each of the nine men killed had gunshot wounds listed as the cause of death and homicide listed as the manner of death.
Several of the documents indicate where on their bodies the men were shot. For example, Daniel Raymond Boyett, 44, the only person from Waco killed in the shootout, suffered multiple gunshot wounds to his head, a preliminary autopsy document shows.
Stubbs said he thinks officials should release video, at the very least, to “clear up rampant misinformation.”
“Video has no bias. Video is completely independent,” he said. “Science doesn’t have a bias; it’s independent. We want the independent evidence out to contradict the misinformation that’s been released.”
Swanton has said officials sent the videos to the FBI for analysis. He said the footage likely includes images from at least one squad car dash camera, Twin Peaks restaurant surveillance cameras and a surveillance camera from the neighboring Don Carlos Mexican restaurant.
On May 20, the Tribune-Herald filed a request under Texas’ Public Information Act for all video from the shooting, including security surveillance from Twin Peaks and Don Carlos, as well as any dash cam or body camera footage. Waco police objected to the release of the videos and sent the request to the Texas Attorney General’s office on June 2, seeking an opinion.
The Texas Public Information Act allows governmental agencies to withhold from public disclosure certain law enforcement records if the release would “interfere with the detection, investigation or prosecution of a crime.”
The Attorney General’s Office has up to 45 business days to issue an opinion on whether the police department must release any videos from the shooting.
“There are things that we know that we cannot talk about until trial,” Swanton has said, adding the department is concerned about tainting a potential jury pool.
Stubbs responded, “Either you don’t want to taint the jury pool and you don’t talk or you are talking and you are tainting the jury pool. You can’t have it both ways. It seems to me that they are tainting the jury pool in their favor.”
He added, “My mama always told me that a half-truth is a whole lie.”
Stubbs said that members of the Bandidos were not aggressors in the shootout and didn’t start the altercation, strike first, or pull weapons first and the video footage would reflect that account. Stubbs said the majority of the Bandidos present that day took cover and that all involvement by Bandidos was in self-defense.
“It’s very clear why the Bandidos showed up,” Stubbs said. “They were there to attend a political meeting and nothing else.”
Swanton did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.