After No-Knock Raid Goes Horribly Wrong, Police Union Boss Steps Up To Threaten PD's Critics

from the garbage-in,-garbage-out-apparently dept

Four Houston police officers were shot -- allegedly by now-dead suspects -- while serving a no-knock warrant on a Houston residence. The no-knock warrant was supposed to make everything safer for the officers, giving them a chance to get a jump on the suspects and prevent the destruction of evidence/officers. But as anyone other than cops seems to comprehend, startling people in their own homes with explosives and kicked-in doors tends to make everything more dangerous for everyone.

Operating on a tip that from someone claiming to have purchased heroin from the home of Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas, the Houston PD SWAT team secured a no-knock warrant and kicked in the door roughly five hours later. No heroin was found. Some guns and an apparently small amount of cocaine and marijuana were recovered. According to cops, the 59-year-old Tuttle opened fire on officers and his wife tried to take a shotgun from a downed officer, resulting in her being killed as well. The married couple are now dead, having amassed a combined 21 years of marriage and a single criminal charge -- a misdemeanor bad check charge -- between them before this raid ended their lives.

The cops have vouched for the reliability of their confidential informant despite there being a huge discrepancy between what the CI told them and what was actually found in the house.

According to the affidavit, the informant said he bought the powder from the middle-aged man, who called it “boy,” a street name for heroin. The informant also said that the man carried a gun, and that there was more of the brown powder at the house, “packaged in a large quantity of plastic baggies.” The author of the affidavit wrote that the informant had “proven to be credible and reliable on many prior occasions” and he asked a municipal court judge “to enter the suspected place and premises without first knocking and announcing the presence and purpose of the officers executing the warrant.”

The dead couple cannot provide a narrative, so the one we're stuck with comes from the Houston PD.

“Once the officers breached the door and the gunfire began from the suspects, one of the suspects actually retreated momentarily to the back of the room and then that suspect came back and again engaged the officers in gunfire,” Acevedo said at a Monday evening news conference.

Maybe some footage survived the shootout...

[Chief Acevedo] said none of the officers was wearing a body camera.

It's not that the Houston PD doesn't have cameras. It's just that officers wear them when they want to and activate them only when they want to. It appears no one in the department has stepped up to hold officers accountable for failing to follow policy. So, only one story survives this shooting: the PD's account.

There might have been a second version covering some of the raid, but the PD took care of that as well.

[K]HOU, the CBS affiliate in Houston, reports that the house had no security cameras, although "a house next door to the Tuttles' home does have surveillance video," and "police took that footage for evidence."

As is to be expected, this deadly raid has led to criticism of the police department and its tactics. It started with a CI tip about an illegal substance that wasn't found during the search and ended with four cops wounded and two people with no criminal history shot dead in the home they had lived in for twenty years.

The criticism is well-earned. But the head of the city's police union believes the police have done no wrong -- not in this case and possibly not ever.

Houston Police Department Union president Joe Gamaldi went a step further, calling out people who criticize the police. “We are sick and tired of having targets on our back,” Gamaldi said at a press conference on Monday night outside of the hospital where the injured officers were being treated. (All four survived their injuries.) “We are sick and tired of having dirtbags trying to take our lives when all we’re trying to do is protect this community and protect our families. Enough is enough. If you’re the ones out there spreading the rhetoric that police officers are the enemy, well just know we’ve all got your number now. We’re going to be keeping track on all of y’all, and we’re going to make sure to hold you accountable every time you stir the pot on our police officers.

This statement says a lot about the mindset of law enforcement. Officers appear to believe that because they do a job few people want to, they shouldn't be criticized for how they do it.

But the statement says something much more worrying about how police officers and their representation respond to criticism. Gamaldi's statement suggests the Houston PD will be keeping tabs on its critics. He's basically saying the government agency employing the people he represents is willing to retaliate against protected speech. That's not something the Houston PD can do (at least not legally) and it's something it shouldn't do, even if some officers feel they might be able to get away with it. If the PD is willing to violate the Constitution when it's publicly criticized, it's probably willing to do it during its more private ventures. Ultimately, this statement says more about the PD than its critics, and what it does say is pretty ugly.

Filed Under: dennis tuttle, houston, houston pd, houston police, joe gamaldi, no knock, no knock raid, police, police killings, rhogena nicholas, swat, warrants


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Feb 2019 @ 5:32am

    Nixon started all this when I started high school, with the "War on Drugs". I'm now in my sixties, and it's been a gradual downhill slide all along since then.

    We've locked up huge numbers of people for no better reason than they wanted to get high. We've enriched gangs and cartels beyond their wildest dreams even with the example of prohibition still fairly recent history. We've eroded our civil rights to an astounding and truly scary degree. We've militarized our police into the most corrupt bloodthirsty gangs imaginable.

    And for what? What benefit has our society derived from this insanity?

    Can we not look at the example of Portugal for a sane way to deal with drugs?

    The next step is a Blank Panther style reaction - armed citizens monitoring the police department. They have clearly shown they can not do the job themselves. If Joe Gamaldi wants to declare war on the citizens... well, I wonder whether he'll be willing to take the blame when citizens declare war on the police. Because it seems like that's all that's left to do. If the courts won't take any action when police declare war on the citizens... nor the politicians... Well, what's left to do?

    But it won't happen. Not for a while. Like someone else said: the citizens have been pacified. I can't believe there aren't riots in Houston over this.

    Ramona Thompson wrote "Ain't even one of 'em worth a thing Just dirt beneath our feet Scum Each and every last one of 'em They protect and serve all right.... Themselves!"

    which isn't true. There are lots of good cops out there. But as others have said, their system is designed to filter them out and promote the bad ones. So it ends up not mattering if there are good ones if they allow the bad ones to murder the citizenry on a regular basis.

    I hate that people like Joe Gamaldi can't see that behavior like his is pushing us towards a day when a majority will agree with Ramona Thompson, that "The only good cop is a dead cop".

    Sad.


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: I Invented Email
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.