FORT WORTH — A biker arrested after a deadly shootout involving bikers and police in Waco, Texas, says it is a conflict of interest for a policeman to preside over the grand jury that may hear his case.
Matthew Clendennen, who sued after he was one of 177 bikers arrested following the shootout, alleges in a court filing Wednesday that James Head's presence as foreman of the randomly-selected 12-person panel should not be allowed.
Clendennen's attorney, Clint Broden, says in the filing that Head was involved in executing search warrants and may have been present at the city's convention center where people were processed after the shooting.
McLennan County District Clerk Jon Gimble told The Associated Press that Head's name does not appear on any of the search warrants.
"It's not for sure this grand jury will even hear the biker cases," Gimble said.
The objection comes amid allegations from bikers and their lawyers that authorities have acted unfairly during the investigation. While Clendennen is the only one to have sued, others have said in interviews with The Associated Press that they were wrongfully arrested.
Nine people were killed and 18 injured in the May 17 shootout outside a Twin Peaks restaurant that authorities say arose from an apparent confrontation between two motorcycle clubs. The 177 people arrested were each held on $1 million bonds.
Waco Police Officer Manuel Chavez testified earlier this month that the arrest affidavits were prepared by the district attorney's office, and that the Justice of the Peace who swore to the affidavits signed them in bulk, without making an individualized determination for each defendant.
District Attorney Abel Reyna could not be immediately reached for comment.
All but four of those arrested and put in jail have been released, mostly on lowered bonds. There has been no indictment.
It remains unclear whose bullets struck the nine bikers who died in the melee. Waco police have appealed the public release of the results of autopsies and ballistic analyses to the Attorney General's office.
Hundreds of weapons —including 151 firearms — were recovered.
Witnesses told the AP that they heard automatic weapons during the shooting. But Waco Police Chief Brent Stroman said in June that city officers had disabled the automatic setting on their rifles, and that most of the dozens of shell casings found at the scene were from suspects' guns.
Clendennen was slapped with a gag order after publicly criticizing how the investigation had been handled. The order was written by Reyna and issued by Reyna's former law partner, District Judge Matt Johnson.