As the news reports on LEO and Texas bikers, we are all thinking the mainstream news is the only story. But here at Show Me Motorcycles, we wanted to spin this story a different way. The facts relate that at “Twin Peaks” restaurant in Waco Texas was the location authorities claim that members of several motorcycle gangs including the Bandidos and Cossacks were involved in ongoing turf war talks.
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According to authorities nine people were killed, 18 people were seriously injured and there are approximately 170 people in police custody, after the turf war meeting went bad. After the arrests civil libertarians took notice because looking at how authorities handled the situation they believe that too many people were arrests, they were overcharged and their bail was set to high.
The state of Texas identifies motorcycle gangs like the Bandidos and Cossacks like the Blood and Crips gangs. The state considers these motorcycle gangs as dangerous as organized crime syndicates involved with Mexican drug cartels. Civil libertarians claim that the arrests of many may have infringed on their civil liberties and it will create havoc in the Waco and other areas criminal justice system.
Why the Mass Arrests Shouldn’t have Happened
Police statements and family statements are quite different. Some loved ones of the bikers state they were law abiding citizens that were members of motorcycle clubs and gathered for a meeting of motorcycle enthusiasts. The families claim their loved ones did not attend the meeting with intentions of violence.
The family of Jesus Delgado Rodriguez one of the victims said he had no criminal history and was awarded a Purple Heart for his service in Vietnam. The family stated that Rodriguez was not a member of a gang. One of the people authorities arrested is a retired San Antonio police detective.
According to AP reports out of the 170 arrested after the shootout at the Central Texas restaurant have not been convicted of a crime in the state of Texas. Sgt. W. Patrick Swaton Waco Police Department spokesman said that the nine people killed in the shootout and the injured were part of five criminal motorcycle gangs. The police spokesman stated they did not go to the restaurant to eat and drink, but went there intending violence.
Critics claim there is no way the police could claim every man and woman that were arrested did not go there with the intention of eating barbeque and drinking.
Evidence Collected by Police
Authorities claimed after the arrests that they believed they would recover about 1,000 weapons from the crime scene. Then authorities had to revise their statement after collecting what they considered weapons to 318. Out of this number there were 118 handguns, but police also counted as evidence knives, brass knuckles, chains with padlocks and other items as weapons that were confiscated. Critics question how many of the “weapons” are actually weapons and how many are considered illegal.
Some of the handguns confiscated may not have been illegal, since Texas has concealed carry permits. This would mean that people having these permits were not actually violating the law by having a gun in their possession at the time the fight occurred. In the event the person was drunk they would then be violating the Texas permit holder’s law.
Due to the Public Information Act it is unclear if any of the people carrying handguns had a concealed handgun permit. Texas Penal Code Chapter 46 states exactly what types of knives are considered illegal and size of the blade. The knives that were confiscated it has not been released how many were in violation of Chapter 46.
The state of Texas also has one of two signs alcohol beverage retailers must post on the premises for possession of firearms in the bar or other establishment. One is known as a 51% Weapons Warning Sign that prohibits anyone from possessing a firearm, even if they have a concealed weapon permit. Restaurants often post a different type of sign referred to as a blue TABC Weapons Warning Sign, which carries a warning to anyone possessing a firearm within the establishment without having a legal concealed firearms permit. This means patrons that do have a concealed weapons permit would be legal to carry a handgun into the restaurant. The Twin Peaks restaurant has the blue TABC Weapons Warning Sign displayed in the establishment.
Excessive Bail in Arrests
Critics claim that Justice of the Peace W.H. “Pete” Peterson set the bond for over 170 of the people arrested as gang members. Peterson set bail at $1 million dollars for each individual with charges of engaging in organized criminal activity.
Peterson said in a statement to the press that he thought it was important to send a message, since there were nine people killed and many others injured. He said most of the motorcyclists were from out of town.
They believe that while some of these arrested individuals may warrant their bail set this high, most of the people don’t. Bail is to be set by the court taking into account the person’s ability to pay the set bail, but with a $1 million dollar bail the family and friends of the individual would need to raise $100,000 in cash for the bond. Bondsman in the Waco area will not be able to cover the amount for all of the arrested bikers to be bailed out of jail.
As for Peterson’s comment about sending a message the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure 17.15 does not list that as being a part of the rules in setting bail. Bail is not meant for punishment, it is merely to ensure the person shows up for scheduled hearings and court appearances. Peterson’s theory will only prevent the people arrested from being able to post bond, while leaders of drug cartels or criminal syndicates would be able to post that type of bail and walk out of jail.
Even though the bikers are presumed innocent before being convicted of a crime they have no chance of posting the astronomical bail.
Judicial Economy – Costing the Courts Time and Money
What is likely to happen with this many arrests and bail set at such a high amount is bond reduction hearings and appeals thought a writ of habeas corpus application. In the event the court denies the application the individual can immediately appeal the decision. This will cost the court time and money dealing with bond that was set in an outrageous manner to teach a lesson, which is not a part of the code outlining setting bail in Texas.
Currently all of the motorcyclists are being held for engaging in organized criminal activity leading to capital murder. Many of the people arrested will require court appointed legal defense counsel, which is state funded. To date none of the people arrested have been charged with murder and Civil Libertarian critics believe that none of the bikers will be charged with capital murder, since death eligible offenses are extremely costly to prosecute.