WACO, Texas (KWTX) A woman who filed a $350,000,000 lawsuit this week in connection to the Twin Peaks shootout said she hoped the figure would send a message to Waco.
(Photo courtesy of Morgan English)
Morgan English filed the federal civil rights lawsuit Wednesday in Austin.
The suit names the City of Waco, McLennan County, District Attorney Abel Reyna, former Waco police Chief Brent Stroman, police Officer Manuel Chavez and several John Does.
“It was ridiculous how Waco treated us, and we do not deserve the pain and anguish we've gone through in the last two years,” English said.
She was one of the few women of the 177 bikers arrested in connection to the biker gang brawl which left nine dead and at least 20 injured and served 16 days in jail under an initial $1,000,000 bond.
Her husband William was also arrested.
She said he lost his job because of it, and although he has a new job, when he looks for work he’s often turned down, she believes it’s because their arrests pop-up immediately during an internet search, making them appear to be criminals, although they’ve never been formally charged with any crime.
“I want Waco to know what they did was wrong, I want to prove a point to Waco, the fact that they just ruined so many lives,” she said.
English said she, her husband, and two friends drove in a car from Brenham to Waco to attend the Coalition of Clubs and Independents meeting which was supposed to be held at the restaurant the day of the shooting, and they were clueless about what was going to happen.
Although they were part of a small motorcycle club called “The Distorted MC,” she was not wearing any gang insignia or affiliated with any biker gang, which the lawsuit states police lied about in the affidavit to secure her arrest, distinguishing her case from others.
English has since had a child and removed herself from the motorcycle club because of how the biker world is being perceived.
“We don't even wanna be associated with that because it's not the kind of people we are,” she said.
From the start, English’s Houston-based attorney, Paul Looney, has maintained his client was “virginally innocent," and since she was never indicted, her fourth and 14th amendment rights were violated.
Looney admits the dollar amount they’re asking for is high, but says the damages in this case are extreme.
"Unlike anything that's been seen in any type of American tragedy,” Looney said. “It requires an outrageous punitive damage result to make sure that that doesn't become standard conduct in the future for, for policing agencies and for districts attorney."
Earlier in the week, District Attorney Abel Reyna said in a statement, “The issue complained of by Morgan English has already been addressed by a District Judge who found probable cause existed for her arrest.”
Looney said the probable cause ruling in August, 2015 had nothing to do with the lawsuit.
"Now we're in front a federal judge and now we're gonna be in front of a jury and they're not going to have their home-selected, home-field advantage,” said Looney.
Reyna has won indictments against 154 bikers since the May 17, 2015 shootout.
Several bikers who were arrested but not indicted, have filed federal lawsuits.
“Unfortunately, our legal system allows anyone who pays a filing fee to file a lawsuit, including those with ridiculous allegations,” Reyna said in response to this latest suit.
“It just made me laugh that he said this lawsuit was ridiculous, it's ridiculous that he even thought that,” English said in response.
While English has yet to be indicted, because there was an underlying charge of murder on the engaging in organized crime charge she was arrested on, she could still be indicted in the future.
Reyna has not said whether or not he ever plans to seek indictments against the three-dozen-or-so bikers who were arrested after the shootout but have not been indicted.
"It's always gonna follow us," she said.