A bank teller filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday, demanding $350,000,000 as a result of the May 17, 2015 Twin Peaks shooting in Waco that killed nine people, injured 18, and resulted in 177 arrests.
Morgan English, of Brenham, is suing the City of Waco, McLennan County, McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna, Former Waco Police Chief Brent Stroman and Waco Police Detective Manuel Chavez.
Her attorneys say law enforcement used a "fill-in-the-name" warrant to arrest her, along with the others, even though she claims she was not wearing insignia representing the Cossacks nor the Bandidos motorcycle clubs, which were involved in the shoot-out that day.
English, a graduate of Stephen F. Austin University, said she was with her husband William in their car with two friends the day of the shoot-out. According to her attorneys, shots rang out before they even entered the restaurant, and the group immediately took cover. English claims she and her husband both spoke freely with police after the shooting. But, she was arrested anyway.
“This is especially outrageous because a perjured arrest affidavit was issued for a young lady who arrived at the restaurant parking lot minutes before the shooting began,” said Randall Kallinen, Houston civil rights attorney representing Morgan in her civil case. “Morgan English has now been portrayed all over the world as involved in a mass homicide. Her lawsuit is very different from others that have been filed following the melee nearly 22 months ago.”
English is seeking damages against each defendant of between one and one hundred million dollars on behalf of each of the first 100 people she hopes are found innocent in the criminal trials. Her attorneys claim innocent people were arrested after the shoot-out and had their entire lives ruined by being falsely accused and saddled with one million dollar bonds. Wednesday's complaint seeks compensation for those claims.
“When I first met Morgan, she had been held in custody for 13 days. My first efforts were to get her released and removed from the suspicion of criminal behavior,” said Paul Looney, the attorney who represented Morgan in her criminal case. “Only after the authorities made that an impossibility did I finally decide there was no choice but to use a lawsuit to change the prosecutorial environment in Waco once and for all. This lady is, was and always will be virginally innocent of any criminal behavior that occurred at Twin Peaks. What happened to her, however, is a cruel and excruciating crime not of her own making and $350,000,000 is an appropriate figure for this case.”
The first criminal trials in the Twin Peaks case are expected later this year. In response to Wednesday's civil lawsuit, McLennan County District Attorney, Abel Reyna, issued the following statement:
"The issue complained of by Morgan English has already been addressed by a District Judge, who found probably cause existed for her arrest. Unfortunately, our legal systems allows anyone who pays a filing fee to file a lawsuit, including those with ridiculous allegations."