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Police bullets hit bikers in Waco shootout, report confirms

Published 18/09/2015

The aftermath of the shootout in the car park of the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco. (AP)
The aftermath of the shootout in the car park of the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco. (AP)

Police shot bikers with their rifles in the deadly shootout that killed nine people at a Texas restaurant earlier this year, a report has confirmed.

The acknowledgement comes for the first time in a 724-page incident report that was included in more than 8,800 pages of evidence.

The evidence includes video footage of people fleeing the scene while shots ring out, and audio of police threatening to shoot people who rise from the ground.

It still is not clear whose bullets caused all the deaths.

At least 20 people were injured when the shootout erupted as several biker gangs gathered at the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco on May 17.

Police Chief Brent Stroman said in June that three officers fired a total of 12 shots, but declined to say whether they struck anyone.

The evidence offers the best insight yet into how the shootout unfolded. Four months later, authorities have released little information about what sparked the fight or how the gunfire played out, and no one has been charged with any of the deaths.

The evidence is expected to be presented to a grand jury.

The gunfire erupted shortly before a meeting of a coalition of motorcycle clubs that advocates rider safety. At least 20 people were treated for gunshot and other wounds.

Many witnesses, including bikers involved in the brawl and waitresses at the Twin Peaks restaurant, told police the shooting began after a Bandido rider hit a prospective member of the Cossacks with his motorcycle, according to the evidence. A fistfight ensued, followed by several minutes of shooting.

Officer George Vrail was assigned to a special detail to cover the meeting and wrote in a 724-page incident report that he saw two officers during the shootout who "had multiple suspects down on the ground. (An officer) informed me they were engaged by gunfire as they exited their marked police unit. (The officer) said they both returned fire and struck multiple suspects with their patrol rifles".

In his portion of the incident report, officer Keith Vaughn wrote that another officer spotted a man shooting into the crowd and told Mr Vaughn he fired one round "to stop the individual from shooting anyone else".

According to the incident report, a separate Waco police investigation into the police shootings is under way. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is conducting ballistics analyses.

Following the shooting, 177 people were arrested and held for days or weeks on million-dollar bonds on charges of engaging in organised criminal activity. But no one has been indicted, and it remains unclear whose bullets struck the dead and wounded.

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