Three Waco police officers were cleared Wednesday of wrongdoing in the May 17, 2015, Twin Peaks shootout that left nine people dead and 18 wounded.
“Our department, along with numerous local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, has worked tirelessly on the still-ongoing investigation of Twin Peaks,” Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said in a statement. “We have completed an exhaustive internal investigation on the officer-involved portion of the incident, which was reviewed by the Texas Rangers. The three officers have been cleared by the investigation, and the action of the grand jury affirms those findings.”
The grand jury no-billed 15-year veteran officer Andy O’Neal, 11-year veteran officer Michael Bucher and nine-year veteran officer Heath Jackson in the Wednesday hearing. McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna and two Texas Rangers presented the cases to the grand jury, Reyna said.
“These officers acted professionally under very difficult circumstances,” Waco police interim Chief Frank Gentsch said in a statement. “I’m glad to have this caliber of officers protecting our city. I appreciate the job conducted by the department investigators, the Texas Rangers, the McLennan County DA’s Office and the grand jury in this case.”
The officers will immediately return to full duty, Gentsch said. Swanton did not immediately return a voicemail.
Four of the people killed in the shootout and one of the wounded were struck with bullets from .223-caliber rifles, the only type of firearms police used at the scene, according to an Associated Press report. Two of the bikers killed also were struck with other types of bullets, according to the AP report.
It is unclear whether bikers fired the same caliber of bullets. Twelve long guns were reportedly recovered from Twin Peaks, which could include rifles.
Brent Stroman, Waco’s police chief at the time of the shootout, has said three officers fired a total of 12 shots. No other law enforcement officers fired their weapons, Stroman has said, and the rifles were used in a semiautomatic setting during the shootout, not fully automatic.
Stroman has said the three officers were on administrative leave for about two months after the shootout and then were placed on administrative duty.
Authorities confiscated about 475 weapons from Twin Peaks, including 151 guns, in addition to knives, brass knuckles, batons, tomahawks, weighted weapons, a hatchet, stun guns, bats, clubs, a machete, a pipe, an ax, pepper spray and a chain.