Here's something you don't see everyday: Law enforcement apologizing. Especially to bikers. Especially to patch-holding bikers. And (even more) especially to so-called outlaw motorcycle club bikers.
But low and behold, that's what happened in Riverside County yesterday. County officials apologized as part of a settlement agreement on the Vagos MC defamation suit against the county. Those officials included former District Attorney Rod Pacheco, D.A.'s office spokesman John Hall, county Gang Task Force commander Walter Meyer, Hemet police Chief Richard Dana, and the city of Hemet.
Many of you may remember that a few months back, the Club was publicly accused of being part of several terrorist attacks in Hemet, California, including blowing up a police car. Hemet police immediately blamed the Vagos MC. Not the first anti-biker actions we've notice from Hemet law enforcement.
What prompted the suit was a March 17, 2010, news conference during which Riverside DA Pacheco and Hemet PD Chief Dana blamed the Club for the attacks, and discussed a four-state sweep targeting Vagos members for alleged weapons and drug violations. More than 30 bikers "affiliated with the club" (whatever that means in LEO speak) were arrested. What was not discussed publicly, but we've been told by sources close to the club, was that those arrests were all for parole violations or based on minor drug charges.
Two men were later charged with the attacks — Nicolas Jon Smit of Hemet and Steven Hanson of Homeland — neither of whom have ties to the Vagos.
The Vagos sued for defemation. As part of the settlement of the Vagos' lawsuit, Riverside County officials (grudgingly, I assume) released a statement Monday that the “District Attorney's Office is reasonably satisfied, at this time, that the Vagos … (were) not involved in the 2010 attacks on law enforcement officers.”
We are glad to see that justice has been served in this case. More or less. It's disheartening though, but not surprising, that it takes a Los Angeles bikers rights lawyer to make that happen.