By Lisa Maria Garza
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Five of the bikers indicted in the deadly May fight among motorcycle gangs in Texas filed a civil rights lawsuits this week against McLennan County officials and Waco police, claiming wrongful arrest and incarceration, according to court documents.
Lawyers for bikers Matthew Clendennen, Robert Bucy, George Bergman, Noe Adame and Jorge Salinas filed individual lawsuits in federal court in Texas on Tuesday, six months after the May 17 battle at Twin Peaks Sports Bar and Grill in the central Texas city of Waco.
Nine people were fatally shot in the melee that led to the arrest of 177 people at the scene.
The five men were included in the group of 106 people indicted by a grand jury last week for engaging in organized crime. The remaining bikers’ cases will be heard at a later date, according to the district attorney’s office.
Defense lawyers for Clendennen, 30, a member of the Scimitars Motorcycle Club, said in the suit he was simply present for a club meeting when the gunfire began on the restaurant patio and did not participate in the shootings.
"As gunfire erupted, video evidence conclusively proves that the vast majority of the individuals present at the location did not participate in any violent activity, but instead ran away from gunfire or ducked for cover," the suit said.
Some bikers have blamed police for escalating the violence and firing into the crowd. Police said they acted properly to curtail the spiraling violence.
Waco authorities have been mostly silent on the accusations made by the bikers, citing a gag order, but have said there was probable cause for every arrest and that officers did not fire indiscriminately.
Law enforcement officials have said officers fired a total of 12 rounds during the melee. It is still unknown whether any of those bullets struck any of the dead or the 18 wounded during the fight that took place on the restaurant's patio and spilled into two parking lots.
Almost 500 weapons were found at the scene, including knives, brass knuckles, batons, tomahawks, chains with padlocks, stun guns, pepper spray and firearms, police said.
(Editing by Jon Herskovitz Alan Crosby)