Thirteen cases related to the 2015 Waco biker shootout have been dismissed. More than 100 bikers are still awaiting trial; many of the accused now have civil suits against the district attorney’s office and the Waco police department. The gunfight, which occurred between multiple motorcycle clubs at a Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas, saw nine bikers killed and 18 injured.
On February 8, 2018, 13 cases stemming from the deadly 2015 biker shootout in Waco, Texas were dismissed by State District Judge Ralph Strother. The Waco biker shootout dismissals are part of a strategy by the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office to focus on “co-defendants with a higher level of culpability,” according to prosecutor motions.
The McLennan County District Attorney dismissed 13 cases, recused itself from prosecuting two more, and dropped charges against nine bikers who were not indicted.
The May 17, 2015 shootout claimed the lives of nine bikers, with 18 others injured. The incident occurred at a Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas, where members of multiple motorcycle clubs were meeting. The Waco police and SWAT also got involved in the gunfight after it broke out. The aftermath saw 177 people arrested, with 106 indictments handed out. Of 480 weapons confiscated, 151 were guns.
However, there was controversy over the indiscriminate nature of the arrests. Two and a half weeks after the arrests, bail was set at $1.0 million for many of the 143 bikers still in jail. Civil rights lawyer David Kairys told the Los Angeles Times that it was “Like saying, ‘Let’s arrest them all and sort it out later.’”
The state’s criminal cases against 130 bikers still waiting for their trial in the Waco biker shootout incident are in doubt. So far, the only biker the state has put on trial, Christopher “Jake” Carrizal last November, had his case result in a mistrial. Over 100 of the bikers arrested have ongoing civil suits against the district attorney’s office and the Waco police department.
Jorge Salinas, a former U.S. Marine from Lometa, Texas, was among the 13 cases dismissed. Just hours before the case against him was dismissed, Salinas had been scheduled for a hearing regarding allegations of corruption against District Attorney Abel Reyna. The hearing was cancelled, which led Salina’s lawyer Brian Bouffard to speculate that the dismissal of the case against his client was to avoid having the allegations against Reyna heard in a public court.
Bouffard maintained that Salinas’ civil rights were clearly violated, saying “The dismissal, while welcome, doesn’t erase that.”
The dismissals could also potentially clear the way for the civil suits lodged by the bikers to go forward, as a judge in Austin, Texas had stayed the cases while awaiting the outcome of the criminal cases.