Four members of the Grim Guardians motorcycle club are suing the police, the city of Waco, and a restaurant for $1 billion dollars. According to the Daily Beast, the four claim they went to the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas in May 2015 for a meeting about state politics. Instead of a friendly chat, rival motorcycle gangs opened fire on each other.
Nine men died in the shootout and 20 were injured, according to National Public Radio. The number of bikers arrested for engaging in organized criminal activity was 177—including the four Grim Guardians members.
Jim Albert Harris, Bonar Crump Jr., Drew King, and Juan Carlos Garcia are suing the city, law enforcement, and the restaurant for violating their civil rights and slandering their reputations. They aren’t the first to sue over the incident. Earlier this year, a woman announced she is suing Waco for $350 million after being wrongly arrested in the incident.
Beaumont attorney Brent Coon said in a press release that the shootout is the “worst police operation initiated by law enforcement in the history of Texas, including the fiasco of the Branch Davidian storming that killed dozens of innocent women and children outside of Waco over 20 years ago (which resulted in far more civilian casualties than the recent gas attacks by Assad of Syria).”
Coon claimed that Waco’s handling of the shooting “will be shown to be one of the biggest blunders and cover-ups by any law enforcement agency in the country,” and the city will eventually be proven as “another Salem, Massachusetts in a witch hunt for bikers.”
According to the Daily Beast, several Waco law enforcement officials were outside of the establishment, anticipating violence. Officers had established a perimeter around the brawl ahead of time—based on intelligence about an escalating conflict between the Bandidos and Cossacks.
The four Grim Guardians motorcycle club took cover behind a vehicle with a female law enforcement officer, their lawsuit claims. Three of the four who have filed the lawsuit sat under a tree in the parking lot when they said officers with assault rifles came over to search them.
When King asked why, according to the Daily Beast report, an officer responded: “Because you are wearing leather vests.”
The suit claims that Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton told the media numerous times that police “arrested three bikers who were carrying weapons and tried to reach the scene after the fighting had quieted down.”
According to the lawsuit, Swanton “tried to portray these three plaintiffs as bikers arriving with weapons as reinforcements.” The suit argues that in reality they were sitting in the parking lot.
Harris, Crump, King, and Garcia claim they committed no crimes that day and were arrested just for being bikers.
The incident marked one of the largest mass arrests in a single criminal incident in American history.