Abigail Anastasio’s questions about potential multimillion dollar judgments against DA Abel Reyna that would have to be satisfied by taxpayers compelled the judge to have them answered in writing
CAPITAL MURDER INVESTIGATION STILL OPEN, COPS SAY
Waco – When District Attorney Abel Reyna ordered the arrest of everyone wearing a motorcycle club patch or the patch of a supporter club, he aborted a capital murder investigation that is still open, according to a top cop.
Robert Lanning, acting Waco Chief of Police on May 17, 2015, told lawyers today that if it had been his decision to make, he would not have arrested en mass every person at Twin Peaks following a police massacre of bikers fighting with fists and guns.
As the day-long hearing of a motion to disqualify District Attorney Abel Reyna and members of his staff unfolded, testimony revealed now retired Chief of Police Brent Stroman allowed the DA to make all decisions as to how to proceed with arrests and charging suspects after Reyna told him in a long distance phone call that he could stand before a judge and jury and convict every person who attended a political meeting that erupted in gunfire and fist fighting.
Stroman testified that he thought Reyna meant he could obtain convictions for capital murder, and he gave his consent.
Further testimony from police officers who were there at Twin Peaks Restaurant and at an impromptu emergency headquarters at the Waco Convention Center revealed that none of the persons detained for questioning had been advised of their rights under the law against self incrimination.
When Assistant District Attorney Mark Parker discovered this, he said, he was surprised. He agreed with Reyna’s attorney that any information thus obtained would have been rendered “worthless” in prosecution.
“They appeared to us to be under arrest because they were wearing zip ties (temporary handcuffs)…It didn’t appear to us they were free to leave.”
They had not been read their procedural rights and their statements were not recorded, he declared.
One busload of Cossacks and their supporters had been transported by city bus to Lacy Lakeview for release and another filled with Bandidos and their supporters were hauled to the Lorena Police Department.
Reyna testified that the police felt it was necessary to separate them by miles due to a threat of further violence.
At that point, Parker said, Reyna, First Assistant Prosecutor Michael Jarrett, Assistant DA Sterling Harmon and he called the investigators into a room to get everyone on “the same page.”
Those who had been released were called back and arrested, and the decision to arrest all who wore patches of Bandidos, Cossacks or their support clubs was put into motion.
Assistant Chief Lanning testified that none of the assistant chiefs agreed, and that no one in law enforcement agreed with the decision, either.
In rambling, hostile testimony, an angry Reyna mumbled that “I do not recall that…” to most questions put to him by F. Clinton Broden, attorney for Matthew Clendennen of the Scimitars support club of the Cossacks, and Abigail Anastasio, attorney for Ray Nelson of the Hill County Cossacks.
In response to Anastasio’s questioning about his exposure to liability both professional and personal in civil rights suits, he fairly shouted, “I don’t care if you take the food out of my son’s mouth. I’m not worried about the threat of a lawsuit. I’ve read the lawsuit. I can tell you the allegations are false…I don’t care. I’m going to do the right thing.”
When the lawyers tried to call attorneys representing Reyna on behalf of the Texas Association of Counties, the lead litigator objected on grounds of attorney-client privilege.
54th Criminal District Judge Matt Johnson sidestepped the issue in public exposure by ordering the attorneys to ask their questions in writing in order to learn if McLennan County taxpayers will be liable for judgments in excess of the $500,000 liability insurance covers, or if Reyna will be personally liable.
He ordered them to brief their cases and turn them in .
Knowledgeable observers predicted a ruling should come within two months.