WACO, Texas (CN) – An emotional Dallas leader of the Bandidos motorcycle gang testified on his own behalf Tuesday in a case over a deadly shootout with rivals, denying he is part of a criminal gang and claiming he fired in self-defense.
Jacob “Jake” Carrizal, 35, of Dallas, is charged with two counts of engaging in organized criminal activity and one count of directing organized criminal activity in the violent shootout with the Cossacks gang at a Twin Peaks “breastaurant” in Waco on May 17, 2015. Nine bikers died and 20 were injured.
More than 150 people were charged in the aftermath of the shootout. Carrizal is the first to go to trial. He faces up to life in state prison if convicted.
Carrizal told his attorney, Casie Gotro, under direct examination Tuesday that he only shot Cossack member Jacob Rhyne because Rhyne pointed a gun at him. Rhyne later died from his injuries. He said the dispute started when his group of Bandidos tried to park at the restaurant and Cossacks surrounded them and said they could not park there.
Carrizal said he was surprised so many Cossacks were at the biker coalition meeting, and that the Cossacks are not members. He blamed the Cossacks showing up uninvited for causing the violence.
“I was surrounded,” he said. “Not just a few, there were dozens.”
Carrizal said punches were soon thrown and he tried to get away while his helmet’s face shield was being torn away. He said the Cossacks tried to punch him with brass knuckles.
“I was in the middle of a pile,” he said. “I remember waiting for a knife to go into me or a bullet to hit me. I knew I was fighting and I knew it was coming.”
Carrizal defended the Bandidos, saying the group does not condone violence and it often performs charity toy runs. He described the Bandidos as more of a lifelong brotherhood, admitting he had violated conditions of his bond to speak with other Bandidos.
“I am being judged by everyone in here and everyone on that camera,” he said. “I can expect no mercy from society, I am a Bandido and I looked like a criminal so I expect no mercy from anyone else.”
Prosecutors argue the dispute between the motorcycle gangs that sparked the shootout revolved around the Cossacks starting to wear “Texas” bottom rocker patches on their vests without permission from the Bandidos, who claim the state as their territory.
Carrizal said that after he got away from the pile, he found his wounded father, fellow Bandido Christopher Carrizal, and broke down as his father told him to take care of his family.
Carrizal also admitted under direct examination that he lied to police about not having a gun because he had never been in trouble with the law before. He credited police present at the restaurant for opening fire when the shooting started, saying they saved lives – including his, twice.
Assistant McLennan County District Attorney Michael Jarrett criticized Carrizal’s testimony about the Bandidos’ charitable work, asking him on cross-examination how many toy runs would make up for the nine deaths during the shootout.
Carrizal’s testimony will continue on Wednesday, with the jury expected to begin deliberations by the end of the week. It comes at the end of a tumultuous week where his attorney accused prosecutors of illegally withholding evidence through the trial.