Questions about arrest affidavits in Waco biker shootout

Nearly two and half years after a deadly biker shootout in Waco, the first trial of more than 150 people begins this week. 

The shootout involved two rival biker gangs and the Waco Police Department and left nine people dead and more than 20 injured.

Waco police initially arrested 177 people, some of whom just happened to be in the parking lot when the shooting started. During a hearing last year, a lawyer for one of the defendants challenged the arrest warrant affidavit for 177 people arrested.

The arrest affidavit had the exact same narrative for each arrested person. Some skeptically call those "fill in the blank" affidavits, and during that hearing two Waco public officials gave drastically different accounts. A Dallas court ruling could have an impact on the cases against dozens of defendants.

On Friday, Dallas County Judge Teresa Hawthorne ordered an independent investigation to determine if one of two public officials in Waco perjured themselves, saying in part: "Having found probable cause to believe that an offense has been committed, I am requesting that you appoint a District Judge to commence a Court of Inquiry."

Dallas defense attorney Clint Broden represents one of the defendants. He asked for the hearing because of what he said were inconsistent statements given by McLennan District Attorney Abel Reyna and Waco Police Detective Manny Chavez, who signed the affidavits for the arrests of 177 bikers.

"It goes part and parcel as to how the district attorney's office has handled these cases from day one,” Broden.

The district attorney was asked this question under oath:

Q: "Prior to the affidavit being given to Mr. Chavez or Detective Chavez to sign, did you allow him to have any input?"

A: "Absolutely . Absolutely. And a lot of the input -- I cautioned him and told him, Manny, you need to read every single line and word in this affidavit..."

But when Det. Chavez was asked if any conversation like that took place, he said he never spoke to Reyna on that night.

"He looked at me befuddled when I asked the question, like, what do you mean,” Broden said.

Dallas defense attorney Deandra Grant does not represent anyone in the case, but explained that a court of inquiry is highly unusual -- but necessary in cases involving public officials.

"If it turns out that Mr. Reyna did commit perjury in that hearing or it is found that he did and criminal charges are filed against him, that office will likely be recused from all those cases which means that they are going to become the problems of somebody else's DA's office,” Grant said.

In response, District Attorney Reyna said. “The timing and location, among other things, of Mr. Broden's latest filing certainly speaks volumes as to the frivolous and ridiculous nature of its contents."

The presiding judge over the first administrative judicial district will appoint a judge to conduct the court inquiry -- and that district judge will appoint a special prosecutor. The allegations range from misdemeanor perjury to aggravated perjury which is a felony. If convicted it carries a range of up to 10 years in prison.

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