$350M lawsuit claims investigators lied in court about Waco Twin Peaks biker shootout

A Brenham woman who says she was wrongfully charged in the 2015 biker gang shootout that left nine dead and 177 people arrested has filed a $350 million federal lawsuit against the City of Waco, McLennan County, the district attorney, police chief and other investigators.

Morgan English, 32, filed the suit Wednesday in federal court in Austin, contending officials violated her constitutional rights and lied to authorities in wrongly claiming that she was a known member of a criminal motorcycle gang who participated in ongoing criminal activities.

 

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"This is especially outrageous because a perjured arrest affidavit was issued for a young lady who arrived at the restaurant parking lot minutes before the shooting began," said Randall Kallinen, the Houston civil rights attorney who is representing her.

"Morgan English has now been portrayed all over the world as involved in a mass homicide. Her lawsuit is very different from others that have been filed following the melee nearly 22 months ago."

Authorities have pointed to a judge's gag order that prohibits them from commenting publicly about what happened in Waco.

English and her husband, William, drove to Waco that May for what they thought would be a quarterly meeting of a motorcycle group called the Coalition of Clubs and Independents to discuss bike-related legislation.

'Highly misleading'

But after the couple arrived and started walking from their Nissan Sentra to the meeting spot at the Twin Peaks restaurant, they heard shots ring out and took cover.

They later learned that police had staked out the scene in anticipation of a face-off between members of the Cossacks and Bandidos motorcycle gangs.

When the smoke cleared, nine bikers were dead - and "most deaths were from law enforcement gunfire," the suit alleges.

Afterward, the Englishes stayed at the scene to answer questions from police and eventually were charged with engaging in organized criminal activity. They were held on $1 million bond, but the charges were later dropped.

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The suit says officials lied to gain court approval for Morgan English's arrest warrant.

She is neither a member of a criminal street gang nor does she regularly associate in the commission of criminal activities, and she was not wearing gang insignia, according to the suit.

Authorities used the same affidavit for every one of those accused, even when evidence was clear that the information was false, the suit says.

"In the aftermath of the incident at Twin Peaks, defendants apparently concluded the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution ceased to apply, and could be ignored given what they perceived as an immediate need to announce the reestablishment of law and order in their town," the suit states.

 

But the problems did not stop after the mass arrests, the suit says, with local authorities giving out information to the media that was "inaccurate, exaggerated and highly misleading."

The number of guns seized after the shootout was "grossly overstated" and the photos distributed to the media included knives that were legal to carry but "with blades extended in an effort to appear as menacing as possible."

'Blatantly false'

Days later, District Attorney Abelino Reyna publicly implied that those arrested were guilty because "if they're victims, then they shouldn't have any problem coming to law enforcement and cooperating … and, at least in the first round of interviews, we ain't getting that."

But English's suit contends that claim is "blatantly false" and that she and many of the other suspects cooperated with authorities.

The suit is seeking actual and punitive damages.

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Keri Blakinger
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chron.com




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