Dallas Criminal Defense Lawyer F. Clinton Broden of the Dallas based criminal defense firm Broden, Mickelsen, Helms & Snipes LLP obtained a copy of the search warrants issued on July 12, 2015 to search the mobile phones of the Waco bikers, including the mobile phone of his client (Matthew Clendennen), which were seized during their arrests on May 17, 2015. The Waco police department’s affidavits requesting these search warrants, like the criminal complaints used to arrest the 177 bikers in this case, were simply “fill in the name” documents without any individual probable cause.
Broden noted that the search warrant affidavits, signed under penalty of perjury by Waco Police Detective Sam Key at 11:06 a.m. on June 12, 2015, contain an admission that police bullets did, in fact, strike “multiple” motorcycle club members. This is despite the fact that Waco Police Chief Brent Stroman, in a press conference held two hours later on the same day, told reporters that it was “undetermined” whether police fire struck any bikers and that the issue “was still under investigation.” Broden also pointed out that the Key swore that police “were fired upon by Bandidos and/or Cossacks” but at Stroman’s press conference Stroman specifically stated that he “could not say” and “w[ould] not say” that Bandidos and/or Cossacks “fired upon the officers.”
Broden explained that he had asked police for the return of his client’s mobile phone during a phone conversation with a Waco police detective on May 28, 2015 but was told that, at the time, the phone was being searched pursuant to a search warrant. Nevertheless, he has now learned that the warrant for Mr. Clendennen’s mobile phone was not obtained until June 12, 2015. “I was lied to by the Waco police,” said Broden. Broden did say, however, that Mr. Clendennen willingly provided police with the password to access his mobile phone once he learned of the search warrant yesterday.
Former State District Judge Michael Snipes, who presided over the December 2014 Eric Williams death penalty case in connection with the murder of the Kaufman County prosecutors and who joined Broden, Mickelsen, Helms & Snipes LLP in January 2015, explained that the affidavit in support of the search warrant for Mr. Clendennen’s phone does not specify any probable cause that implicates Mr. Clendennen in any crime. “He is not even mentioned in the body of the affidavit,” said Judge Snipes. “The search warrant does not pass constitutional muster.”
The search warrant for Mr. Clendennen’s phone was signed by District Judge Matt Johnson. “One would have hoped that Waco and McLennan County officials would have learned from the fiasco surrounding the 177 arrests in this case that affidavits in support of warrants must be tailored to the individual, yet, almost a month later, they are still using fill in the name affidavits,” said Broden. “The Bill of Rights, including the Fourth Amendment, was enacted more than 223 years ago and the United States Supreme Court decided the case of Ybarra .v Illinois more than thirty-five years ago,” Broden pointed out. “Apparently Waco and McLennan County have still not gotten the message.”
In the 1979 Ybarra decision, the Supreme Court announced: “Where the standard is probable cause, a search or seizure of a person must be supported by probable cause particularized with respect to that person. This requirement cannot be undercut or avoided by simply pointing to the fact that coincidentally there exists probable cause to search or seize another or to search the premises where the person may happen to be.”
Broden continued to press for police transparency and urged the Waco Police to truthfully report to the public. “Either Key was lying to the judge or Stroman was lying to reporters,” Broden said. Broden also noted that, in Key’s affidavit, Key swore that “[t]he Texas Department of Public Safety maintains a database containing information identifying the Cossacks and Bandidos as a criminal street gang.” Nevertheless, in the recent DPS “gang threat assessment” there is absolutely no mention of the Cossacks.
“The Waco police seem unwilling or unable to tell the public the truth which is why the Department of Justice must intervene in this case,” concluded Broden. To watch previous interviews where