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The Secrecy Surrounding the Waco Biker Investigation

Image via Flickr/Paul Townsend (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
The shootout in Waco this spring left nine bikers dead and 177 others behind bars.

From Texas Standard:

It's been 121 days since the so-called biker gang shootout in Waco. Despite nine deaths and a mass arrest of 177 people – each held for days or weeks on $1 million bonds – there have been exactly zero formal charges brought against anyone. Nor has any evidence been offered to support the arrests. And there's been no word whatsoever on whether (or when) cases might be presented to a grand jury, which is currently led by a Waco police detective.

To make sure no one talks about this case, there's a gag order in place.

In June, a Dallas-based lawyer for Matthew Clendennen – one of the bikers who was arrested – filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Waco, McLennan County, District Attorney Abel Reyna and Waco police officer Manuel Chavez.

Monday, that same lawyer filed a brief with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals asking that the gag order in the case be lifted.

Families and their attorneys are afraid to talk.

There are also issues with the evidence from the crime scene: Autopsy information has been incomplete, and some ballistics information is missing.

Neither state nor federal officials seem to be asking questions about transparency, criminal procedure, due process or civil liberties. And that's making it harder to answer that overriding question: What really happened outside that restaurant in Waco? Who fired the first shots? Who fired the fatal shots? If police have answers, they don't want the public to know them, at least not yet.

Tamara Tabo heads up the Center for Legal Pedagogy at Texas Southern University, and she's been closely following the story.

"It does seem sort of conspicuous that officials haven't at least released more information about their investigation," Tabo says.

Hear more at Texas Standard.


Rhonda joined KUT in late 2013 as producer for the station's new daily news program, Texas Standard. Rhonda will forever be known as the answer to the trivia question, “Who was the first full-time hire for The Texas Standard?” She’s an Iowa native who got her start in public radio at WFSU in Tallahassee, while getting her Master's Degree in Library Science at Florida State University. Prior to joining KUT and The Texas Standard, Rhonda was a producer for Wisconsin Public Radio.
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