Houston Officer Behind Deadly Botched Raid Hit With Two Felony Murder Indictments

from the some-people-earn-their-indictments dept

Former Houston PD officer Gerald Goines is going to face murder charges. At least he’s alive to face them. The victims of Goines’ botched no-knock raid — Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas — don’t have the luxury of watching justice be done. The residents of the house were killed by police officers performing a raid targeting heroin that never existed, utilizing a warrant filled with lies based on statements made by a confidential informant who didn’t exist, and drugs pulled from a cop car console.

Goines is facing both state and federal charges. And the charges are still coming in. Multiple investigations are still ongoing. Nearly 14,000 cases linked to the now-disbanded Squad 15 (of the Narcotics Division) are under review by the District Attorney’s office and dozens of pending cases have already been dismissed.

The charges brought against Goines late last year are now officially backed by an indictment, as Jacob Sullum reports for Reason.

“Because officers lied, people died,” Harris County, Texas, District Attorney Kim Ogg said today at a press conference where she announced a grand jury indictment of two former Houston narcotics officers who were involved in a January 2019 drug raid that killed a middle-aged couple in their home. The indictment confirms the state charges filed last August against Gerald Goines, who is accused of lying to obtain the warrant for the raid, and Steven Bryant, who is accused of subsequently backing up Goines’ false portrayal of Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas as dangerous heroin dealers.

Yes, it’s incredibly easy to obtain a grand jury indictment. But the success rate drops precipitously when it’s a cop being charged. This isn’t a testament to the trustworthiness of grand jury proceedings, but rather an indication of just how irredeemable Officer Goines’ actions were.

It’s impossible to know how many people’s rights were violated by Officer Goines and the PD’s Narcotic Division, but we can say definitively Goines caused the death of two people who had nothing in their house but a small amount of drugs for personal use. They were never dealers and did not use heroin. But Goines used a bunch of lies to turn a couple who had been married for 21 years into dangerous drug dealers, and instigated a no-knock raid that resulted in multiple injured cops and two dead Houston residents.

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo took over a troubled police department and promised greater officer accountability. He has failed to turn things around since his arrival in 2007. A narcotics unit doesn’t become a flagrant abuser of rights overnight. It’s something that steadily gets worse in the absence of accountability. Because no one felt compelled to engage in meaningful oversight, 14,000 cases linked to a single squad are now being reviewed for further evidence of illegality and misconduct.

Acevedo failed this test as well. He initially offered his support for an officer now charged with murder. Police officials complain all the time about people drawing assumptions before all the facts are in, but they are the first to offer their support of officers’ actions before all the facts are in. The facts are in. And the facts make the entire department look awful. Goines isn’t an aberration. He’s just the one who got caught.

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Comments on “Houston Officer Behind Deadly Botched Raid Hit With Two Felony Murder Indictments”

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36 Comments
christenson says:

Re: Re:

Whatever you think of gun laws, it’s nice to have your opponents disarmed….

Me, how’s about we apply gun laws (especially the training parts; these guys aren’t weekenders but carry daily) to the cops????

As a public health numbers guy, you want to think about the statistics:
20K per year shoot themselves and die
10K per year are shot by someone else
1K are shot by cops
100 are shot in schools.

Which says that to save lives,
1) prevent gun theft, make it always difficult
2) make the ammo non-toxic (lead does all kinds of horrible, subtle shit to folks, and those firing weapons are exposed)
3) work on the mental health aspects… gun license –> automatic ticket to social life.

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peter says:

Where is the FULL investigation?

Past cases linked to this squad are being looked at, but I still want to know what has happened to an investigation into the whole police department including their immediate supervisors, superiors and their Internal Affairs / complaints dept.

The actions of these officers and their Squad did not happen in a vacuum. Nor were they an isolated incidents. And i refuse to believe that there were not multiple complaints and accusations made against officers of this squad, let alone other squads.

The failure here is not just of a couple of rogue police officers or even an out of control Squad. It smacks highly of an entire department who swept any problems under the carpet as long as they kept the numbers up for "taking out the bad guys". The whole thing smells not just of wilful blindness or supervisory failures, but complicity.

Who is to say the failures of one Squad and their Supervisors is not endemic throughout the whole Department.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Drugs and drug laws kill people

I just have to take issue with the subject line. Drugs absolutely kill people. (Though not all drugs in feasible doses.) Heroin kills people. Opioids kill people. Cocaine kills people. Alcohol kills people. Nicotine kills people. Narcotics (by which I mean the medical term referring extreme painkillers and such, not what law enforcement calls narcotics) kill people. Meth kills people. Many if not all prescription drugs kill people.

Drug laws—in there current form and under current enforcement regimes—have a stronger tendency to increase the death toll more than it reduces it, but drugs in and of themselves are still deadly.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Drugs and drug laws kill people

Drugs absolutely kill people. (Though not all drugs in feasible doses.) Heroin kills people. Opioids kill people. Cocaine kills people. Alcohol kills people. Nicotine kills people. Narcotics (by which I mean the medical term referring extreme painkillers and such, not what law enforcement calls narcotics) kill people. Meth kills people. Many if not all prescription drugs kill people.

Now, now, now…those things kill people in the same way that guns kill people. Bring up gun control and you have a whole rabid segment of the population chiming on about "but muh freedomz!"

Those that die from drugs are simply those who fail to exercise personal judgement, and the rest of us shouldn’t be denied the choice to use drugs because of a few bad apples.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Drugs and drug laws kill people

I don’t disagree with that per se, though calling it a choice is ignoring how addictive many of these substances are. Additionally, the government is currently showing (at least in Ohio) that they can reduce deaths from drugs without overenforcement of drug laws in how they’ve handled the opioid epidemic. Granted, heroin drug overdoses have increased since then, but overall deaths have still declined. Also, for many drugs (like heroin or meth), I’m not sure that there is a responsible use. And even one use can have permanent effects on one’s health.

At any rate, that particular gun argument is reductive. The fact is that guns and drugs both kill people directly. And it’s particularly offensive regarding drugs.

Your Grandkids says:

Re: Re: Drugs and drug laws kill people

Lots of things kill people and yet we do not have similar laws addressing those other things. Just imagine nations attempting to thwart their desire for warfare – lol, yeah that will never happen.

I do not think the human race is capable of saving themselves. Too many ignorant people making bad choices based mostly upon monetary considerations. What do they care … they wont be here when it all goes to hell.

Anonymous Coward says:

This isn’t a testament to the trustworthiness of grand jury proceedings, but rather an indication of just how irredeemable Officer Goines’ actions were.

Also the fact that he’s black. Not saying he doesn’t deserve to be charged. I’m just saying that it wouldn’t have been surprising if he had been let off for this had he been white.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

Serious answer: Trump can’t pardon people if they haven’t been charged/convicted of a federal crime. Only the governor of a given state can pardon for state-level crimes.

Not-so-serious answer: He’ll grant the pardon right after his PR team comes up with a way to say he thinks there were “very fine people” on both sides of the shooting…that doesn’t piss off more than half the country.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anon says:

Knock, knock

The thing I see most frightening is the proliferation of no-knock warrants. I recall reading about this during the Nixon administration, where news reports mentioned one warrant and how difficult it was (special circumstances) to get one. Today they seem to be the norm. Really? Is it necessary to storm a house because of the possibility of drugs, because of the possibility they could be flushed? If the quantity is that large, I doubt they are so easily flushable. Plus, the informant’s testimony and the drugs they produced should be more than sufficient for a conviction. (Unless the informant is unreliable).

Not to mention – when storming a house with the full power of the state, all officers should be in full uniform. A bunch of strange plain-clothes people breaking in the door and (supposedly) shouting "Police" does not prove anything nor provide grounds to claim the occupants should not defend themselves.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Knock, knock

During the tricky dick admin, I remember reading a story about a no knock raid on the wrong address. A big difference was they were not yet using flash bangs to kill children, they did not yet have tanks, and they did not destroy the home just to get the perp. The first instance I recall of that happening was in Philadelphia where the cops dropped bombs on row houses.

Louis says:

Why only 2 murder charges?

When committing a crime and someone is killed, the whole gang face murder changes, even the gateway driver that never set foot in the crime location. So why only the two shooters facing murder changes? Shouldn’t it be that by that logic against "criminals", every officers in that raid plus their leaders be facing those same murder changes?
Or is it again a case that law officers don’t have to live by the same laws that affect the rest of us?

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