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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Biker Shootout Or Police Abuse


Whoever released the video featured in a CNN report by correspondent Ed Lavandera yesterday titled “Knives, guns, blood and fear: Inside the Texas biker shootout” remains a stone cold whodunit.

Although cynics might take the caption in the upper right corner that read “Waco Police Department” for a clue, Waco police spokesman W. Patrick Swanton assured the Waco Tribune-Herald that the source that “leaked” the video was probably “an attorney who got it through discovery.”

Maybe. Not all of the defense attorneys in the case are Perry Mason, or even Clint Broden or, for that matter, Paul Looney. Some of them are Rob Swanton of the law offices of Swanton & Frederick who, coincidentally, is Patrick Swanton’s brother. Maybe he is the one defense attorney in the case who would be stupid enough to feed this story to CNN. The effect Lavandera’s “report” would have was practically foreordained. He deep throats the police version and brags that the video and documents he has been given “begin to tell the story of how a midday gunfight turned the parking lot of a Waco strip mall into a battle zone.”

“The Bandidos decide what other groups can operate in Texas and charge them dues. They insist that only dues-paying members can wear a ‘Texas’ patch on their jackets or vests” Lavandera lectures.

Lavandera has absolutely no idea what he is talking about. He explains that the term one percenter, “is part of biker lore that dates back to the 1960s: Someone supposedly said that 99 percent of bikers are law-abiding citizens, leaving the mayhem to the other one percent.” In fact, the term originated with remarks by E.C. Smith, who was then the Executive Secretary of the American Motorcyclist Association, who called participants in the so-called Hollister Motorcycle Riot in 1947 “outlaws” and asserted that they represented only “one percent” of the motorcycling community at most. But even if Lavendera just makes things up, he still speaks beautifully and convincingly. Which is what he is paid to do. And his facts are good enough for CNN which is to news as cable companies are to customer service.

The release of an edited version of a video that was described in some detail by The Associated Press on May 20, along with Lavendera’s exegesis, remained a dominant American story today for the simple reason that “if it bleeds it leads.” The Toronto Star reported it under the headline “Dramatic raw video shows Waco biker shootout.” The Sacramento Bee ran its account under the headline “New video shows wild Texas biker shootout that killed nine.”  The Telegraph in the United Kingdom grabbed readers’ attention with “Surveillance video emerges of deadly Texas biker gang gunfight.” Sky News informed readers “Video Shows Rival Biker Gangs In Shootout.” Maxim proclaimed, “The Police Footage From the Massive Waco Biker Shootout Is Insane. It’s like a scene out of Sons of Anarchy on steroids.” The Irish Mirror called it the “Waco biker shooting bloodbath.” The Huffington Post missed Swanton’s denial of police culpability and told its readers “Cops Release Surveillance Video Of Deadly Waco Biker Gang Shootout.”
It’s The Narrative Stupid

What the world is learning today from Ed Lavandera and all the rest of these broken tools is that  what happened in Waco last May 17 was a “biker gang shootout” just as Swanton and District Attorney Abelino Reyna have insisted it was all along.

“There are two ways this story can go,” a source close to multiple defense attorneys in the case said back in May. “The dominant narrative can either be ‘biker shootout’ or ‘law enforcement abuse.’” It is interesting that CNN obtained the video labeled “Waco Police Department” the day after the Dallas Morning News ran an editorial titled, “In Waco case, biker gangs earning more trust than prosecutors.”

Whoever leaked the video, the effect of CNN’s coverage is obvious. Nobody is talking about law enforcement abuse anymore.

Follow the donut crumbs.