Houston Police Officer Who Led Botched Raid That Killed Two People Now Facing Felony Murder Charges
from the some-of-the-best-criminals-are-cops dept
The increasingly-awful story of the Houston Police Department’s botched drug raid continues to develop. Earlier this year, the Houston PD raided the house of Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas. By the time the bullets stopped flying, the couple of 21 years was dead.
The raid was predicated on a tip from a confidential informant who said he saw lots of heroin and some guns in the residence while performing a controlled buy. No heroin was found. The gun described by the informant was never found. What was found was personal use amounts of marijuana and cocaine, neither of which were mentioned by the informant.
The informant never existed. The heroin supposedly purchased from the residence actually came from the console of an officer’s police car. The affidavit obtained by Officer Gerald Goines was apparently filled with lies about a controlled drug buy that never happened and statements from an informant who had never visited the Tuttle residence. The actual tip the officers acted on was one phoned in by Rhogena Nicholas’ mother, who complained about the couple using drugs in their house.
Goines wasn’t the only liar. Other officers on the scene lied as well. The narrative officers presented was one of being greeted by weapon-wielding residents during the no-knock raid. An independent forensic examination of the home contradicted many of the claims made by officers in their reports.
The police chief finally distanced himself from the officers’ actions, but only after enough information had come to light to show everything about the raid was a lie. Investigations have been opened on the PD and the officers involved. The two officers who led the raid are having their past investigations examined by the PD and the DA’s office says this could affect as many as 14,000 cases. Not that the Houston PD is exactly being cooperative. The DA’s office has had to threaten legal action to get the department to turn over paperwork linked to Officer Gerald Goines and Officer Steven Bryant.
These officers are no longer facing multiple investigations into the drug task force work. They’re now facing criminal charges as well.
Gerald Goines, the ex-Houston police officer who led the controversial no-knock raid on Harding Street, has been charged with two counts of felony murder, as KHOU 11 Investigates reporter Jeremy Rogalski first reported.
His attorney, Nicole DeBorde, said Goines was surprised by the charges.
Goines surrendered Friday afternoon and his bond was set at $150,000 on each charge. Goines made bond Friday evening.
He is required to wear a GPS monitor and won’t be allowed to have weapons or leave Harris County.
His partner in cop crime isn’t facing murder charges, but is on just as short a leash as Goines.
Former Officer Steven Bryant, who was involved with the Harding Street warrant, is charged with second-degree tampering with a government document. His bond was set at $50,000. He will also wear a GPS monitor and can’t leave Harris or Fort Bend counties.
Meanwhile, the HPD chief continues to reassure himself this isn’t the tip of a corroded iceberg, but rather just an anomaly he can go back to ignoring when the press finds something else to occupy itself with.
However, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo believes it’s not a department wide problem.
“We’ve been looking at a lot of cases and we have yet to see it again, any evidence of any systemic issues,” Acevedo said.
Maybe no cop on the force is as awful as these two. But cops don’t just go straight from the academy to falsifying affidavits and engaging in deadly raids over drugs that came from a cop car, rather than a crime scene. They start small. And if no one stops them, it eventually grows to something that can’t be contained. Chief Acevedo needs to dig a little deeper. If he’s not seeing anything, it’s not because it’s not there. It’s because he’s not really looking for it.