A Texas prosecutor who recently inherited the remaining cases related to a 2015 biker gang shootout in Waco has dismissed all charges in connection with the incident, saying that at this point, pursuing justice would be a "waste of time, effort and resources."
The decision means no one will be held accountable for the brawl at a Twin Peaks restaurant, which ended with nine people dead and 20 injured.
What are the details?
McLennan County District Attorney Barry Johnson — who took the post in January — announced the move on Tuesday and blamed his predecessor for mishandling the yearslong effort to bring convictions. All told, 177 people were arrested and 155 charged in the ordeal, but the single case that made it to trial resulted in a 2017 acquittal.
Johnson issued a statement, saying, "Following the indictments, the prior district attorney had the time and opportunity to review and assess the admissible evidence to determine the full range of charges that could be brought against each individual who participated in the Twin Peaks brawl, and to charge only those offenses where the admissible evidence would support a verdict of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt," the Waco Tribune-Herald reported.
"In my opinion, had this action been taken in a timely manner, it would have, and should have, resulted in numerous convictions and prison sentences against many of those who participated in the Twin Peaks brawl," the statement continued. "Over the next three years the prior district attorney failed to take that action, for reasons that I do not know to this day."
According to the Daily Mail, former District Attorney Abel Reyna dropped all charges against the bikers last year, but re-indicted 24 suspects on riot charges. Those are the cases Johnson tossed on Tuesday.
More serious charges such as attempted murder or felon in possession of a firearm could no longer be pursued, Johnson said, because the three-year statutes of limitations had already passed when he took office.
What's the background?
The violence occurred May 17, 2015, between two rival biker gangs during a rally in Waco. Police responded and ended up engaging in the gunfire, shooting four of the nine people who died.
There was so much chaos at the scene, prosecutors had difficulty determining who did what, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
Tom Needham, McLennan County executive assistant criminal district attorney, called it "a battlefield situation," explaining, "There were dozens of guns and hundreds of weapons collected after a five-minute brawl. ... With the video evidence and the forensic evidence that's available, it's simply not possible to establish beyond a reasonable doubt who fired the shots that killed people."