WACO (AP) — A grand jury declined to recommend charges for three Waco police officers who shot bikers during a gunfight between rival motorcycle clubs in which nine people were killed and 20 others were hurt, the police department said Wednesday.
The gun battle happened in May 2015 outside a Twin Peaks restaurant where motorcycle clubs had gathered for a meeting, including members of the Bandidos and Cossacks, which the state considers to be gangs.
The McLennan County district attorney’s office asked the grand jury whether the shootings were justified after the officers had been cleared by an internal police investigation, according to Waco police spokesman Sgt. Patrick Swanton. The officers, who were placed on paid administrative leave after the shooting, will return to full duty immediately, Waco’s interim police chief, Frank Gentsch, said in a news release.
Ballistics reports seen by The Associated Press show four of the people killed were struck by the same caliber of rifle round fired by Waco police, and two of them were struck by only that kind of rifle.
More than 150 bikers were indicted following the shootout on a charge of engaging in organized criminal activity. The investigation is ongoing, and no trial dates have been set.
The grand jury hearing “allows the police to clean their hands” of the shooting, said Dallas attorney Don Tittle, who is representing more than a dozen bikers in lawsuits against the city.
Tittle added that it was “routine” for prosecutors in Texas who do not want to bring charges in an officer-involved shooting to refer the matter to a grand jury.
Police and the district attorney’s office have defended the officers’ use of force, claiming that bikers had also opened fire on police.