47 more lawsuits filed over Waco Twin Peaks biker shooting

Waco bikers

Nearly 200 people were arrested under “fill-in-the-name” warrants following the shootout. (Photo: AP)

Forty-seven individuals who were arrested following the May 17, 2015, shootout at a Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas, filed federal lawsuits Friday, citing civil rights violations.

With the statute of limitations fast approaching on Wednesday, more lawsuits may follow over the next 24 hours.

Named in previously filed lawsuits were former Waco Police Chief Brent Stroman, Waco police Detective Manuel Chavez, McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna, the city of Waco and McLennan County. Named in the newly filed suits are those previously listed, as well as Waco Assistant Police Chief Robert Lanning, Waco police Detective Jeffrey Rogers, Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton, Texas Department of Public Safety Lt. Steven Schwartz and DPS agent Christopher Frost.

Friday’s filings add to an ever-increasing list of lawsuits surrounding the fiasco, including a $350 million lawsuit filed in March by Morgan English, who bore no patch or any other indicators that she belonged to a motorcycle club but was still jailed for more than two weeks.

Randall Kallinen, Houston civil rights attorney representing English, said his client will now forever be dubbed as a person who was involved in a mass shooting.

English was one of 177 people arrested that day using what was described as “fill-in-the-name” warrants. All of the plaintiffs claim their civil rights were violated, citing the arrests that came without just cause and their massive bonds – $1 million – excessive.

Like the lawsuit filed by English, the most recently filed complaint also alleges that authorities made en masse arrests “based entirely on their presence at Twin Peaks, the motorcycle club that defendants presumed an individual was associated with and/or the clothing they were wearing.”

Only a small percentage of the nearly 200 bikers who were arrested have been indicted, with most facing charges for first-degree felony engaging in organized criminal activity charges. But nearly two years after the deadly shootout, questions still remain over who fired first – bikers or law enforcement – and who fired the shots that left nine dead and dozens more injured.

And none of the bikers have yet to go to trial.

The first of the trials were set to begin last month, but after defense attorneys received a last-minute, massive, one terabyte dump of additional evidence pertaining to the case, a request was granted to postpone the trials. Now, it’s unclear when the first trials will begin. However, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks, who stayed the civil rights lawsuits until at least September, made it clear the criminal cases would take precedence over the civil suits.

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