Paul Fatta

Paul Fatta is one of the Branch Davidians who survived the fire. Below is a transcript of his testimony before he and other Davidians were sentenced.

The transcript was posted February 18, 1995, by Carol Moore, who said, "Below are statements eight Branch Davidians made June 16 and 17, 1994 just before federal Judge Walter J. Smith sentenced them to a total of 240 years on aiding and abetting voluntary manslaughter and/or weapons charges ... These statements, taken from the trial transcript in the order in which they were made, have been edited somewhat for clarity and brevity."

Your Honor, I just ask that you give me a few moments to say some things and try to look at things from my point of view. It seems like for these past 14 months, we've just looked at things from the Government's point of view, and, you know, they're people just like me. I'm going to read this statement:

Why did so many of my friends and family have to suffer and die at Mount Carmel? Who wants to take responsibility? The ATF doesn't. The FBI won't. How about Janet Reno? William Sessions? [Stephen] Higgins? Lloyd Bentsen? And, of course, Bill Clinton. I heard all these people judging my friends on national television. Why didn't any of these people have the courage to show up in court? Where are the managers and supervisors of these agencies? Why wouldn't they testify in court? Many of them have resigned, retired, have been fired or relocated. These are the very people that mocked and ridiculed my friends publicly.

They told us we would be treated fairly and humanely. They arrested our grandmothers and grandfathers, strip- searched them and put them in jail, charged them with murder. Then paraded them in front of the television cameras in chains.

On April 19th we had to watch as the FBI gassed and demolished our home. This was fair and humane treatment? Who wants to take responsibility?

Why did the Government plan a military assault on such a small group of people? The majority of people living at Mount Carmel were women, children and elderly. What our Government did to my friends would never be done to a foreign country. First, we would send ambassadors of peace and negotiators. The Branch Davidians were never given a chance. The Government's attitude is, let's launch a full out military assault and negotiate later.

A little respect and common sense can go a long way. Did ATF investigators bother to contact our families and do a background investigation? Did they make an effort to find out what our faith in God was? If the Government felt we were misguided, misled or deceived, why didn't they send some representative to show us our error? We are reasonable people, we would have sat down and listened to what they had to say. I know for a fact, if the U.S. Attorneys and the ATF would have treated us with respect, this tragedy would never have happened. We had a right to exercise our religion and be left alone.

What kind of spirit or mind would send 90 agents and helicopters to someones' home, knowing they were provoking a confrontation? The people responsible for the planning and execution of this military assault on our church are supposed to be intelligent, professional people. They are public servants. Their job is to serve and protect, not kill, main and destroy property.

The prosecution wants the public to believe they are fighting for the four agents that died. I find that hard to believe. The truth is, they're trying to cover up their own incompetent decision-making. These men, along with others, were more concerned about putting on a show than the lives on my friends and federal agents. The truth is, the Branch Davidians were for peace, but the Government was for war. Here are some facts from the trial to back that statement.

Number one. I witnessed David Koresh leave Mount Carmel at least a dozen times in the last two months before the raid. David Koresh invited ATF Agent David Aguilera to inspect all the weapons at Mount Carmel, but he refused. David Koresh and the other residents of Mount Carmel treated undercover ATF agent Robert Rodriguez with respect. He was invited into our home and we shared our faith with him. He was never threatened or provoked, not even the morning of the raid. Robert Rodriguez pleaded with the raid supervisors to call off the raid. Why didn't they listen? Why would they purposely want to provoke a confrontation? Was "show time" and a budget hearing in March more important than the lives of men, woman and children?

David Koresh went to the front door unarmed. He told the attacking agents, "Let's talk. There are women and children living here." Instead he was met with gunfire, and him and his father-in-law were both wounded.

Wayne Martin called 911 to arrange a cease-fire. How many lives could have been saved if this message was quickly passed to all the agents? At every point, an honest effort was made to avoid a confrontation. Why wouldn't anybody listen?

I came to Mount Carmel to study the Bible and to be supportive with the talents God has given me. I believe there was more truth from the Bible and Mount Carmel than any other place on the face of this earth. That is my personal experience. Theologians, scholars and religious leaders could not unlock the mysteries of the Book of Revelation or the prophecies. I believe David Koresh was given the responsibility to reveal the Seven Seals and make it plain to all those who had an ear to hear. I base my faith on God's word and go by the weight of evidence. Ultimately, God is my judge. I'll have to stand the judgement alone. I won't be judged according to man's laws. I will be judged according to God's word.

Many people find it strange we believe we will see our friends that died again. They are in error because they don't know the Scriptures nor the power of God. There's coming a day when those people responsible for the deaths of my friends are going to bow down at the feet of those children and be ashamed for their actions.

I guess the last thing I could say is, I don't have any personal grudges against law enforcement people. I have sheriffs, police officers, even ATF agents in my family. But there's something wrong with the way we were treated. And the way I look at it is if the U.S. Attorneys and the ATF planners had had family living at Mount Carmel, like brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, I think they would have handled things differently.

(Paul Fatta, 36, a businessman born in Hawaii, was not at Mount Carmel on February 28, 1993. He was sentenced to 15 years but appealed.)