A visiting judge ruled Friday that Waco police had sufficient probable cause after the May 17 Twin Peaks shootout to arrest a Balch Springs biker who is associated with a Bandidos support group.
After a two-hour examining trial, Judge James Morgan said there is enough evidence against Burton George Bergman for prosecutors to present his case to a grand jury for consideration of indictment.
Bergman, 48, a truck driver who is free on bail, claimed he was arrested and jailed improperly because there was not sufficient probable cause to allege he committed the crime of engaging in organized criminal activity.
Bergman, a member of the Desgraciados Motorcycle Club, spent 20 days in the McLennan County Jail after his arrest before posting $80,000 bond, reduced from the original $1 million bond which was set immediately following the arrests of Bergman and 176 other bikers after the shootout.
In a statement to the court Friday, Bergman said he lost his job and continues to suffer from shoulder pain from his prolonged detention in zip cuffs.
He said he also suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after seeing his friends shot in front of his eyes and lying on the ground bleeding, expecting him to help them.
Bergman said he has no criminal record and only decided to ride to Waco with “several friends” at the last minute to attend a biker coalition meeting.
But, prosecutor Michael Jarrett told the court that Bergman has been arrested five times and that he was seen on video riding his blue motorcycle into the Twin Peaks parking lot with close to 25 Bandidos and their support groups.
Bergman, who said he has five children, including a son who is a state trooper, told the court he is not a gang member or a criminal. He said he tries not to judge others, but added he feels betrayed by a system that is making him out to be a criminal when he was merely an innocent bystander to the incident in which nine bikers were killed and 20 others wounded.
Bergman said after the hearing that four of the charges for which he was previously arrested were dismissed. The fifth involves the Twin Peaks case.
Bergman said he parked his motorcycle near Twin Peaks and walked over to Don Carlos restaurant to use the bathroom because Twin Peaks was so crowded. When the shooting started, he said he hit the ground and saw a police officer shooting “wildly” into the crowd of bikers.
An officer ran by him and told him to stay on the ground, while a biker was shot near him and looked to Bergman to help stop his bleeding, he said.
“The only conspiracy I was involved in was to drink beer and eat hamburgers with my friends,” Bergman said in his statement.
Jarrett asked to question Bergman, but the judge said procedural rules for examining trials would not allow it.
During the hearing, word spread that the Associated Press was allowed to view some documents and videos associated with the Twin Peaks case. Jarrett asked Bergman’s attorney, Clint Broden, of Dallas, if he was the source of the leak.
Broden insisted that he was not, even asking the judge to swear him in so he could deny the accusation under oath.
In state testimony, Department of Public Safety Lt. Stephen Schwartz testified about the video that showed Bergman riding into the Twin Peaks parking lot with the Bandidos and their support group members.
Schwartz said Bergman was wearing “cuts” or clothing associated with a Bandidos support group known as the Desgraciados, noting that Bergman parked his motorcycle at “ground zero” of where the violence erupted.
That prompted Broden to say he was going to choose his parking spot more carefully the next time he went to the mall if that was criteria for charging someone with a crime.
Schwartz agreed with Jarrett that Bergman’s statement that he arrived with a “few of his friends” was an “outright lie” based on the video.
Bergman was an “active supporter” of the violence between the Bandidos and Cossacks that day, Schwartz said.
Broden asked during cross-examination if part of that support was “simply being present.”
Schwartz said yes, prompting Jarrett to counter that Bergman rode into the Twin Peaks parking lot with David Martinez, president of the Bandidos’ Dallas chapter. Jarrett said Martinez has been identified on video as firing the first shot or at least one of the first shots that day.
“Do we give Mr. Bergman credit because he didn’t have time to get his pistol out of his motorcycle bag?” Jarrett asked.
Broden, who successfully appealed a gag order issued in the case of another of his clients arrested in the Twin Peaks shootings, declined comment after the hearing.
The McLennan County District Attorney’s Office appealed the gag order reversal by Waco’s 10th Court of Appeals to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. That appeal remains pending. Broden acknowledged that the gag order pertains only to Matthew Clendennen’s case, but he said he didn’t “want to step over the line.”