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Houston raid leaves questions about officers’ motives

From a raid that left two suspects dead, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said, “I’m very confident that we’re going to have criminal charges on one or more police officers”

Jan. 28, 2019, a no-knock raid warrant was issued to the house of 7815 Harding St. in the  Pecan Park neighborhood of southeast Houston. Upon entry, the first officer was shot by Dennis Tuttle and fell onto the homeowner’s couch. Tuttle’s wife, Rhogena Nicholas, started towards the officer’s gun and was shot and killed by officers. Tuttle was shot and killed during the shootout; four officers were shot and one suffered a serious knee injury. Since the initial press release Jan. 28, there has been much controversy about the shooting.

The following day, neighbors and family members of the couple explained that they were not the type of people to have drugs in their home. The initial raid was allowed because the informants claimed there were multiple handguns and heroin. Items seized from the property included 18 grams of marijuana, one and a half grams of cocaine, two shotguns and two rifles.

Feb. 15, lead officer Gerald Goines was accused of lying on the affidavit to obtain the search warrant. While still in the hospital, Goines had given investigators two different names of informants who had worked in the past with Goines but had no knowledge of the Jan. 28 raid. 

The town hall meeting Feb. 18 had many community members and activists requesting an end to the “no-knock warrant” and criminal charges for all involved officers.

At a press conference Feb. 20, Acevedo announced that the FBI has opened a civil rights investigation for the allegations about the fabrication of the information for the search warrant. Aside from the FBI announcement, Acevedo announced that the Houston Police Department will now have “no-knock warrants” processed through the chief. SWAT and officers involved with search warrants will be equipped with body cameras.

“The Harris County District Attorney’s office announced it is reviewing all 1,400 cases- including 27 active ones- that Goines worked on during his 34 years at HPD,” according to the Houston Public Media website

Upon their release from the hospital Feb. 21, Goines and Officer Steven Bryant have been suspended with pay.

“Bryant had first claimed to have witnessed the drug buy, but later told investigators that he had retrieved the two bags of heroin from Goines’ car,” HPM said.

The investigators will continue to examine Goines’ phone call history, emails, texts, photos and videos on his cell phone.

“I promise you all, if you’ll have the patience, you are going to see good come out at the end,” Acevedo said.

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