A second lawsuit related to the incident remains pending.
A civil lawsuit filed against a city in Texas over the police non-response to the “Trump Train” convoy’s tailing in October 2020 of a Biden-Harris campaign bus on I-35 between Austin and San Antonio has ended with a settlement — and a commitment to train the whole department.
Plaintiffs Eric Cervini, Wendy Davis, David Gins, and Timothy Holloway — “respectively, a volunteer, surrogate, staffer, and contractor for the Biden-Harris Campaign” — first sued under the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 back in June 2021, alleging that “law enforcement officials in the City of San Marcos abdicated” their responsibility to protect and serve on Oct. 30, 2020, by either refusing or failing to respond “when dozens of individuals in at least forty vehicles formed a self-labeled vehicular ‘Trump Train’” and surrounded the Biden-Harris bus in an act of blatant political intimidation.
“For at least ninety minutes, including during the entirety of the stretch of I-35 inside the San Marcos city lines, the Trump Train pursued and terrorized the Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs tried to get help. They repeatedly called 911. They requested police escorts,” the complaint alleged. “San Marcos refused to help. From the moment dispatch received 911 calls pleading for help, the City of San Marcos chose not to mount a response. Instead, according to text messages and 911 audio recordings obtained by Plaintiffs, they privately laughed and joked about the victims and their distress, including by calling them ‘tards,’ making fun of a campaign staffer’s ‘hard’ breathing, and retorting they should just ‘drive defensively’ or ‘leave the train.’”
San Marcos police officers and professional staff must receive training on responding to political violence and voter intimidation and ways to develop community trust as part of a legal settlement approved Tuesday over a 2020 incident in which a caravan of Trump supporters were accused of harassing a Biden campaign bus as it drove on Interstate 35.
The city will also pay $175,000 to four individuals on the bus: former state Sen. Wendy Davis, who was running for Congress at the time; former Biden campaign staffer David Gins; campaign volunteer Eric Cervini; and bus driver Timothy Holloway. They accused San Marcos law enforcement in a 2021 lawsuit of ignoring multiple requests for a police escort as they traveled on I-35 from San Antonio to Austin days before the 2020 presidential election. They said they were surrounded by the Trump supporters who allegedly drove dangerously close to the bus while honking and shouting, forcing it to slow to a crawl.
The lawsuit plaintiffs said law enforcement “turned a blind eye to the attack — despite pleas for help — and failed to provide the bus a police escort.” The lawsuit alleged that by refusing to help, law enforcement officers violated the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 because they were aware of “acts of violent political intimidation” but did not take appropriate steps to prevent the Trump supporters from intimidating eligible voters. The Klan Act bars groups from joining together to obstruct free and fair federal elections by intimidating and injuring voters, or denying them the ability to engage in political speech.
Once the bus left San Antonio, dozens of trucks with Trump and American flags surrounded the bus, shouting and honking at it, and tried to slow it down. The campaign canceled an event in San Marcos and continued on to an event in Austin. But plaintiffs said they struggled to get police to respond as they continued north on I-35.
In one transcribed recording, Daenzer, a San Marcos police corporal on duty the day of the incident, refused to provide an escort when recommended by another jurisdiction. “No, we’re not going to do it,” Daenzer told a 911 dispatcher.
In the days after the incident, Trump praised his supporters’ behavior, which occurred months before the former president’s backers violently stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying the results of his reelection loss. The Klan law was also cited in the federal lawsuit against Trump after the Jan. 6 insurrection.
On October 30, 2020, court documents say the self-proclaimed “Trump train” terrorized people on the bus, by showing weapons and making death threats. Video shows one Trump supporter’s truck actually hit a Biden campaign SUV that was trailing the bus.
“It was extremely scary to be going on the highway for about an hour and a half with not a single law enforcement officer in the city of San Marco showing up,” said Gins.