Texas prosecutor dismisses more cases tied to biker shooting

FILE - In this Oct 13, 2016, file photo, McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna looks on during a pretrial hearing involving the biker shoot out at Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas. Reyna dismissed 13 more cases against bikers stemming from a 2015 shootout in Waco involving bikers and police. Reyna made the announcement Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018, a day before scheduled hearings for 10 of the bikers. (Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune-Herald via AP, File)

WACO, Texas - A Texas prosecutor on Wednesday dismissed another 13 cases against bikers stemming from a 2015 shootout in Waco involving bikers and police, citing evidence from a federal racketeering trial against leaders of the Bandidos Motorcycle Club that began this week.

The evidence, including transcripts of a lengthy wiretap operation against former Bandidos vice-president John Portillo, helps prove the theory that members of the Bandidos travelled to Waco to confront members of a rival club, the Cossacks, McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna said during a press conference.

"That is what we have stated all along, that there was an issue" between the groups, he said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Fuchs did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but KSAT-TV reported that federal prosecutors asked the judge for assurance that the ongoing legal action in Waco would have no bearing on the trial.

The May 2015 shootout left nine bikers dead and 20 injured. Documents show that in the aftermath of the shooting, Reyna ordered police to arrest members of both groups as well as their support clubs. Police charged and jailed 177 bikers on identical charges of engaging in organized criminal activity.

Ballistics evidence showed that police bullets struck four bikers, killing at least two of them. The three officers involved in the shooting were no-billed by a grand jury after being cleared by an internal investigation.

Bikers' attorneys have argued that Reyna's involvement in the case makes him a material witness, and have pledged to make him testify to corruption allegations made in affidavits signed by former employees and a former Waco police officer.

Earlier this month, Reyna dismissed 13 cases hours before a hearing where he was due to testify. Reyna has recused his office from prosecuting another three cases. The sole case to be tried resulted in a mistrial in November. The second trial of the bikers is set to begin April 2.

Reyna said in a statement Wednesday that the dismissals were "an effort to narrow in on those most culpable," and denied the corruption allegations.

Of the original 154 bikers indicted, prosecutors are still pursuing 128 cases. Reyna said his office would not pursue cases against 32 bikers who were arrested but not indicted.

Reyna faces a Republican primary election March 6.

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