Whatever, Waco

There are two surprising bits in this story from the Waco Trib.

A visiting judge ruled Monday that authorities had sufficient probable cause to arrest a pistol-packing chaplain for the Bandidos motorcycle group.

Lawrence Yager, a 65-year-old minister from Buda who said he is chaplain for the Bandidos and two veterans groups, at his Monday examining trial challenged the authority under which he was arrested after the May 17 Twin Peaks shootout.

The first is that the Bandidos motorcycle club has a chaplain.  It’s not so much that the club may indulge, on rare occasion, in activities that could possibly be considered contrary to religious teachings. Motorcycle clubs can do that sometimes.  Especially when the club picked the name “Bandidos” to capture its essence.

It’s that, well, the devotion to the deity of choice is really kinda sweet.  And perhaps, given some of the things they are accused of doing, it’s a wise choice to keep a channel to the Lord as close at hand as possible.

But for the man who undertook the rather difficult job of herding these sheep, there were unanticipated risks of damnation.  Maybe not by God, but by a visiting judge.

Visiting Judge James Morgan heard testimony from two officers for about 45 minutes before ruling that there is sufficient evidence to bind Yager over for grand jury consideration of the engaging in organized criminal activity charges.

And these two officers told the story of how Yager did . . . nothing wrong.

Key testified that officers found numerous handguns, rifles and shotguns in the Toyota Avalon that Yager drove to Waco that morning.

Officers also found that Yager was carrying a .44-caliber revolver and a .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol on his belt when he was detained.

To some ears, this sounds pretty darn damaging, except for the detail that every gun was lawful and Yager possessed a concealed carry permit. So he had guns. Lawful guns.

Yager’s attorney, Landon Northcutt, of Stephenville, argued after the testimonies of Department of Public Safety Lt. Steven Schwartz and Waco police Detective Sam Key that neither officer could offer evidence that Yager conspired to commit murder, assault or any crime that day.

The chaplain wore a Christian t-shirt, not gang colors. He had two guns on him because he’s allowed to, and this is Texas. He had others in the trunk of his car because his home had been burglarized and he wanted to keep them out of the hands of bad dudes. All of which amounts to “so what?”

After the shootout, in which nine were killed and 20 were wounded, Schwartz said the restaurant and surrounding area were littered with weapons.

“It was like a tornado went through a gun and knife store,” Schwartz said.

And what does this have to do with a 65-year-old retired minister, Vietnam vet, named Lawrence Yager?  Everything or nothing, according to whether it’s just too much to think about or evidence of nothing.

Plaguing the Twin Peaks shootout are two twin evils.  End up with nine dead bodies and surely someone must have killed them.  There is a strong contention that the “someone” was police, who may well have killed and wounded them all, or most, or at least some, but turning an eye inward would make the police look awfully bad, stupid and venal.

Not as if Waco hasn’t had that experience before, but it was bad for real estate values.  Slightly charred compounds were going for dirt cheap for a while there.

Instead, the police employed the “arrest them all and let god sort them out.”  Not Yager’s God, with the capital “G,” but the small “g” one wearing a robe.  Hey, the cops just haul the possible bad guys in, and it’s up to the legal system to sort out the criminals from the people against whom there is no actual evidence, but just some generic taint. Let the judge snort it.

Except judges are then left to make hard calls, decisions that may well cause someone to point the finger at them when the question gets posed by the ignoranti: How did those biker killers get away with it?

Well, maybe it’s because those bikers weren’t the shooters in the first place. There may well have been guns everywhere, but that doesn’t mean they were used to shoot anyone, kill anyone.  There are methods now to match up bullets to guns.  We don’t have to guess and pretend, go with the speculation that best suits the official narrative. We have the ability to actually know the answer.

And even if it turns out that the dead bodies aren’t all a product of the cops’ shots, that doesn’t mean everyone present can be swept up in some big mass of shooters. This is the problem of too many defendants, not enough evidence. The public really hates this part of the law, as it’s way too hard to wrap one’s head around the notion that even if we know, with absolute certainty, that a crime occurred, we still need to have proof that a particular person committed that crime.

Can there be a dead body, well over 100 potential defendants, and not one against whom evidence exists to prove he was a killer? You bet. Every time a case develops with a large group of potential defendants, we sweep them together, apply broad, generalized accusations to all without any differentiation, and shrug off the details.  Somebody did it, so screw ’em all.

But in America, each and every individual defendant is entitled to a fair trial based upon his or her own conduct, not being tossed into a pile and tarred with generic allegations.  Yes, that may well mean that there isn’t sufficient proof against any individual to convict them for a crime. That’s what proof means.

And Lawrence Yager will now face trial, having prevailed at the “examining trial” on the facts, but having lost when Judge James Morgan decided that this retired minister wasn’t worth the effort of having the guts or brains to admit there wasn’t any proof that he had committed a crime.



21 thoughts on “Whatever, Waco

  1. Noxx

    This episode really does baffle the mind. One would expect these proceedings to be hip deep in ACLU activists and the like, yet hardly a peep. Makes no sense.

      1. Curtis

        The NRA has a very bad habit of compromising, so as not to come off as those evil rabid pro-gunners. And do they really want, the hor-er-er-er-er, of being seen as affiliated with those vile bad bikers?

        Eew. They touched us!

        Oh! Those guys? They don’t count! Maybe we can compromise? NRA against evil bikers with guns, maybe?

        Now you know.

      2. TeeJaw

        The NRA is a warrior in the battle for public opinion about the right to keep and bear arms. I think it is too much to ask the NRA to get involved in something that will provide unrelenting ammo for the anti-gun activists to paint the NRA as supporting criminals, something the anti-gunners are always trying to do. While there may be no evidence showing any of the members of the Bandidos guilty of any crime, it is the judge that has the primary responsibility to do the right thing, and higher court judges and the ACLU the better organization to address the injustice when the preliminary hearing judge fails in his duty.

        1. SHG Post author

          It’s a fair reason for the NRA to keep it’s nose out of Waco. The only problem is that it’s kept it’s nose out of Waco.

          1. TeeJaw

            If you mean the other WACO where the government burned the place down and killed about 18 children, yeah I think just about anyone should have taken a stand on that.

  2. Bartleby the Scrivener

    The silence from the major firearms rights organizations really bugs me. Time for me to write some letters. Why do I pay dues if they’re going to sit on their hands?

    1. TeeJaw

      I guess if you want help from the public when you are wronged you should not belong to or be affiliated with an organization that is seen as a band of criminals in the eyes of the public.

        1. TeeJaw

          Maybe for an organization like the NRA it’s just a case of choosing which fights it wants to wage, choosing the ones in which it has the best chance of winning both the battle and the war. Since we live in a finite world all resources spent on one fight are resources not available for another one that is perhaps more promising.

          1. SHG Post author

            You’ve already made this point, and I agree, it’s a sound argument. The one problem is that in a fight where an organization, like the NRA, is sorely needed, that leaves the 177 people arrested without their support. That’s the price of allocating scarce resources.

            Some who support the NRA think this is exactly where it’s needed and exactly what it should be doing. If the NRA has made a decision to stay out, that it’s choice. For those who believe that principle should trump only getting involved in easy fights, the allocation of scarce resources doesn’t suffice. This is kind of a big fight, exactly the sort of fight that the NRA should be in if it has a reason to exist.

            I just point this out. I have no horse in the NRA race.

  3. rojas

    Well it varies from state to state but I believe the ACLU has long since decided economic justice is where the steel is forged. Bill of Rights issues are passe.

  4. John Barleycorn

    So many opportunities to roll with “you might be able to beat the rap but not the ride” in this post. A post about motorcycle clubs even…did you skip breakfast this morning?

    Whatever, Wacco? More like, step right up ladies and gentleman, get your tickets for the Wacco Wacko Ride.

    “Slightly charred real estate” was pretty good though. It’s always refreshing when  you work in a subtle understatement or two while making your points about the bench often trumping the outrageous behavior of the prosecution or police with their own special kind of “thug life” crazy.

    P.S. Speaking of Judges, do visiting judges from the Judges Motorcycle Club have to wear a particular identifying patch on their cuts? Sounds like they are some pretty  tough hombres.

    P.S.S. Texas has some pretty interesting  helmet laws. You don’t have to wear a helmet in Texas if you are riding “on the road”  but if you are riding “off road”, on the trail, you are required to wear a helmet. Which brings up the question do Texas CDL’s advise their clients to wear helmets in court or are their courtrooms sort of a specially exempt hybrid of on and off road, no helmet required?

  5. Pingback: MORE WEIRD BEHAVIOR FROM THE WACO POLICE: “Plaguing the Twin Peaks shootout are two twin evils. En… - Perot Report

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