Waco Biker Tragedy

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May 29, 2015, 3:03 pm


The owner of a local landscaping business who was jailed with more than 170 other bikers after the deadly May 17 Twin Peaks shootout has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit, alleging his arrest and detention are unlawful.

Matthew Alan Clendennen, 30, of Hewitt, a member of the Scimitars Motorcycle Club, claims in the lawsuit that his business has suffered since his arrest and that he is in jeopardy of losing custody of the two children of whom he shares custody with his ex-wife. The lawsuit says his ex-wife is using his arrest as grounds to try to gain full custody of their children. It was filed Friday in Waco’s U.S. District Court. Clendennen has two other children with his current wife, Sheree.

The suit names as defendants the city of Waco, McLennan County and Waco police Officer Manuel Chavez, who drafted what Clendennen’s attorney calls the “fill-in-the-blank warrants” for the bikers’ arrests.

Clendennen, who remains jailed under $1 million bond, claims he was not engaged in criminal activity at Twin Peaks and was arrested and detained without cause. The suit also claims his motorcycle was seized illegally.

The suit says he has no criminal record, is a lifelong McLennan County resident, a former firefighter in Hewitt and Marlin and a “recreational motorcyclist.”

When the fight broke out at Twin Peaks, Clendennen took cover inside the restaurant and did not participate in the violent episode at all, said his attorney, Clinton Broden, of Dallas.

“In order to arrest somebody in the United States, the Supreme Court has made it clear that there must be individualized probable cause to believe that a particular person actually committed a crime. In this case, there was absolutely no evidence that Mr. Clendennen committed any crime,” Broden said.

In related matters, three more bikers jailed since the Twin Peaks shootout were released from jail Friday after agreements to reduce their $1 million bonds.

The three — Juan Carlos Garcia, Drew King and James Harris, all of Austin — enjoyed a brief taste of freedom May 19 after their bonds initially were set between $20,000 and $50,000 on state-jail felony engaging in organized criminal activity charges. That is a lesser charge than the first-degree felony engaging in organized criminal activity charge that the other bikers were hit with. All but seven of the bikers had been held in lieu of $1 million bonds.

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