Texas Court Says City, PD Must Answer Questions About Botched Drug Raid Led By A Crooked Cop

from the start-talking dept

The Houston Police Department’s botched drug raid that resulted in the killing of the home’s two occupants continues to cause problems for the PD and the city of Houston. The raid was predicated on a phone call from an unbalanced, vengeful neighbor with a history of calling in bogus crime reports. Probable cause was bolstered (if that’s even the word) by dirty cop Gerald Goines, who fabricated a confidential informant and provided evidence for drug trafficking allegations by pulling heroin from the console of his cop car.

The end result was the execution of Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas — a couple who had been together for 21 years and whose house contained nothing more than personal use amounts of marijuana and cocaine. There was no evidence of the heroin dealing alleged by Goines’ nonexistent informant.

Goines is now facing murder charges and a handful of other felony charges. The PD’s drug task force has been disbanded. And Rhogena Nicholas’ mother — who was at one point falsely named as the person behind the anonymous tip Goines supposedly received — is suing the city for its failure to properly oversee the police department. (via Courthouse News)

The city has so far refused to cooperate with the lawsuit. Nicholas wants to depose city officials about the raid but the city has chosen to continue its stonewalling and obfuscation. The city (and the PD) have done everything they can to avoid giving Nicholas anything to work with, starting immediately after it became clear the raid wasn’t justified and had been led by an incredibly dirty cop. Here’s the Texas appeals court’s description [PDF] of the city’s post-raid recalcitrance:

After the Harding Street Incident, the City did not contact Petitioners and did not respond to Petitioners’ request to publicly correct or retract what Petitioners contended were factually incorrect statements. For example, Rhogena’s neighbor provided a cell phone video that suggested a different account of what happened at the Harding Street home than that set forth by the City. The City has resisted efforts by Petitioners to secure the 911 records related to the Harding Street Incident. Moreover, HPD has refused to disclose what physical materials may have been removed from the scene.

Weird. I always thought this was something guilty people did — you know, “nothing to hide, nothing to fear,” etc. I understand there’s no reason to hand plaintiffs ammo to use against you, but the city was unwilling to do anything to correct the record even before it was sued.

The order also points to the independent forensic examination of the crime scene which made it clear Houston PD investigators were either horrifyingly inept or trying to cover something up.

Petitioners retained an independent forensic investigator to conduct an independent investigation at the Harding Street home. After analyzing the scene, the investigator concluded that HPD failed to conduct a full ballistic recovery and left significant forensic materials untouched and unrecovered, preventing a full reconstruction of the incident.

The plaintiffs also pointed out a legitimate investigation includes confidential informants that actually exist and controlled drug buys that actually occurred. None of that happened here and Nicholas alleges the city and PD officials continued to refer to the residence as a “drug house” even when it presumably had been made aware of Goines’ fakery.

And there was oh so much lying by Gerald Goines.

Petitioners further plead that local news media revealed that in the last 109 cases filed by Gerald Goines based on a sworn affidavit in support of a search warrant: “In every one of those cases in which he claimed confidential informants observed guns inside, no weapons were ever recovered, according to evidence logs Goines filed with the court.” On this basis, Petitioners request the depositions of the two HPD managers responsible for oversight of Gerald Goines in the HPD Narcotics Division.

The city and the PD argued the court had no jurisdiction to tell it to comply with these pre-trial discovery requests. The appeals court says the government is wrong.

[T]he statutory probate court has subject matter jurisdiction over the anticipated action under the Estates Code. Hence, the trial court did not err in denying the City’s plea to the jurisdiction regarding the Rule 202 proceeding. […] The City’s issue is overruled.

The city and PD will have to face questions from the relatives of people officers killed during a completely unjustified drug raid. Good. They have a lot to answer for. And the more they talk, the more obvious it will be no one in power really cares how the Drug War is carried out, just as long as it never stops.

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Comments on “Texas Court Says City, PD Must Answer Questions About Botched Drug Raid Led By A Crooked Cop”

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28 Comments
This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

An unofficial war with all the benefits

By declaring war on Drugs, they leave an open-ended rights violation squad. They give them unearned qualified immunity and then complain when the laws are used against them when everything they swore too, was a lie.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: An unofficial war with all the benefits

This is yet another case of Innocent people murdered by the police over this so-called War on Drugs. As one person was alive and bleeding to death for hours, they didn’t go in to help the person. They let that person DIE and later went in. It’s beyond disgusting.

The War on Drugs needs to end. It’s not worth it. Legalize it all, let people do whatever they want with their own bodies.

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

Re: Re: Re:

It is reasonable to believe that a law enforcement officer who displays this type of character has other victims. Ones that lived, but got incarcerated. Therefore it is reasonable to believe that some of them are still in fact incarcerated, and that incarcerating Goines might put them in contact, with some, well let’s say educational opportunities.

I believe that this is the scenario that the AC was hoping…nay praying for.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

'No see, if we start talking that'll make us look bad...'

Oh yeah, dragging their feet on this really clears up the whole ‘it was just one rotten cop’ idea that they or someone defending them may have pulled out.

The only reason I can think of to stonewall so hard that a court makes them comply is because they know more digging is going to find some really unflattering stuff beyond just one corrupt cop and they’re trying to hide it.

anonymouse says:

Re: 'No see, if we start talking that'll make us look bad...'

Its like the Seal Beach Salon murderer in Orange County, CA. They have multiple angles on camera of the murders, multiple witnesses, etc. They have the guy dead to rights. And yet they still put a jailhouse informant in the cell with him. An informant that they had fed information to in hopes of the person incriminating themself further.

And what happens? The defense attorney figures out what is going on and uncovers a police database with all sorts of information in it that was being used as part of a jailhouse snitch progrma that was used to essentially get additional charges against people and ensure convictions. Bam, the entire county prosecutors department is dsqualified, and it takes the state supreme court to ensure this guy stays jailed.

Because they fucked up so bad that our laws and jurisprudence say this guy should be let go. Fruit of the forbidden tree and what not.

Why put a jailhouse informant in a cell with someone who you have a solid case against? Why risk it? Well… piggies gonna pig.

Once they start abusing the tools they are given… they start abusing them in ALL Of their cases regardless of whether they even need to or not.

ROGS says:

failed to conduct a full ballistic recovery

"Your Honor, its possible the house had those bullets in the walls before the raid."…naw.

They can’t release anything wanted or needed, but Houston PD managed to get the autopsy reports all nice and leaked to the corporate media, smearing Rhogena with cocaine residue and Tuttle with "cannabis in his system":

https://www.click2houston.com/news/2019/05/03/autopsy-reports-for-victims-in-botched-harding-street-raid-revealed/

Anonymous Coward says:

taking bets goines has blackmail material on his superiors. Drug re-selling from evidence, murders, executions of rival drug dealers etc.

Only something as serious as this would force them to allow Goines to continue HUNDREDS of cases involving direct lying to judges and courts.

Risking their own careers and time in prison means whatever stuff he’s blackmailing them with has to be pretty damn nightmarish.

ECA (profile) says:

For all the fantasy.

For all that we declare we have an honorable, Just system, society.
Havnt we learned from the past, the problems and tried to Adjust things to Keep them Fair and Just?
When those above us, the responsible, the rich, others, Act in certain ways, WE tend to Follow the example of them.
Some rich person thinks a french idea, of GRASS in the yard looks cool.. and we all follow. WE want to be like/similar TO THEM.
What ideas have been dropped in Schools? Basic Civ.? How the gov is supposed to work. HOW we are responsible for OUR own nation. we are not needed to be supportive of our nation, WE are the nation.

Walk into the City council. and ask how many want their jobs after the next election. Install a box on the election sheet, that says, "none of the above", as for some strange reason they get to keep the job even if Few-no one votes for them. There is NO ‘No’ vote.

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