McLennan County prosecutors subpoenaed the president of the Bandidos motorcycle gang’s Austin chapter to appear before a new grand jury that was seated Wednesday, but settled for his records from a motorcycle confederation instead.
Jimmy Graves, a Bandido who also heads the Texas Confederation of Clubs and Independents, a coalition of motorcycle groups, was subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury and to bring COC&I documents, according to Bill Smith, an attorney for the confederation.
Smith said Graves worked out an agreement Tuesday night with prosecutor Michael Jarrett to provide the documents requested in the subpoena and he was not required to be in Waco on Wednesday to testify before the grand jury.
Judge Matt Johnson of Waco’s 54th State District Court empaneled a new grand jury Wednesday morning. Those 12, plus four alternates, replace the previous grand jury that was headed by a Waco police detective. Like the previous grand jury, the new panel was selected at random from rolls of registered voters and licensed drivers, as dictated by new legislation.
There are no other plans for that grand jury — and previous foreman, Detective James Head — to meet again, the judge said.
Head being named foreman of the grand jury provided ample fodder for conspiracy buffs and biker groups, who took to social media to decry the move.
The term of the new grand jury will expire Dec. 31. The panel could be called upon to hear evidence involving the deadly May 17 shooting at Twin Peaks in which nine bikers died and 20 others were wounded. Or it could hear evidence to determine whether police officers who fired their weapons that day acted properly and within the scope of their duties.
“The prosecutor wanted documents about the Confederation of Clubs and Independents, how it was organized, what it is, minutes from meetings, things like that,” Smith said. “Those were given to the prosecutor and there was no need to testify.”
Graves was on his way to Waco on May 17 but got caught in traffic on the way up from Austin and was not at Twin Peaks when the violence erupted, Smith said.
“The Confederation of Clubs and Independents abhors violence. It is a grassroots organization that has as its mission political, social, safety and awareness issues for motorcyclists and others on the road,” Smith said. “Since this all took place at a COC&I meeting, I’m sure they just want to know a little bit more about the COC&I and its function and what role, if any, it played in all of this. I have been to COC&I meetings throughout the country and there have never been any physical confrontations or even any verbal confrontations. Everyone is welcome.”
Neither Jarrett nor McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna returned phone calls Wednesday.
According to court records filed since the shootout, tensions between the Bandidos and Cossacks had been increasing since the Cossacks began wearing a bottom rocker, or patch, with Texas on it rather than specific counties or towns.
According to police intelligence reports, groups wanting to wear Texas rockers must get permission from the Bandidos.
The affidavits list six incidents dating to November 2013 that foreshadowed the collision course on which the Cossacks and Bandidos motorcycle clubs, which law enforcement identify as criminal street gangs, and their support groups were traveling.
The incident erupted in Waco, according to the documents, after the meeting of the Region 1 Confederation of Clubs and Independents was moved from Austin to the Twin Peaks in Waco.
Nearly all of the recent Region 1 COC&I meetings had been held in Austin, and it is not common for members of any of the other 11 COC&I regions in Texas to attend a different region’s COC&I meeting, according to court documents.
But members of the confederation have disputed this claim, and said it is not uncommon for bikers from one region to attend meetings in other regions.
Many of the 177 bikers arrested in the Twin Peaks shootout were from outside Region 1.
The Cossacks are not members of the local COC&I and the Bandidos are. But the Cossacks consider Waco “their territory and made the decision to take a stand and attend the meeting uninvited,” according to the court documents.
“Cossacks threatened that Waco was a ‘Cossacks town’ and nobody else could ride there,” the records state. “The large number of Bandidos and their supporters showed up to the Region 1 COC&I meeting because the Bandidos wanted to have a show of force and make a statement that Waco was not the Cossacks’ town.”