FBI, DA's Office Open Investigation Of Fatal Houston PD Drug Raid

from the this-is-not-an-anomaly dept

The Houston Police Department has a huge problem. A recent no-knock drug raid ended with two "suspects" killed and four officers wounded. The PD says no-knock entrances are safer for officers, not that you'd draw that conclusion from this raid.

The problem the PD has is its drug warriors are dirty. The raid was predicated on a tip from a confidential informant who doesn't appear to exist. The warrant contained sworn statements about a heroin purchase that never happened and a large quantity of heroin packaged for sale that was not among the things seized from the dead couple's residence. The heroin central to the raid appears to have been taken from the console of an officer's squad car and run to the lab for some very unnecessary testing.

Houston police officer Gerald Goines is the person behind this completely avoidable chain of events. After initially backing his officers, Police Chief Art Acevedo has reversed course in the face of contrary evidence he's unable to ignore. His initial defense of officers who participated in a drug raid that only turned up personal use amounts of cocaine and marijuana was perhaps understandable, given his position. But it went against the image he'd made for himself as a reformer -- someone who would clean up the department and repair its reputation.

A leaked recording of Acevedo speaking to officers after the killing of an unarmed, mentally ill man seemed to make it clear there was zero tolerance for the usual cop bullshit. Acevedo criticized his officers for needlessly escalating interactions, bullying citizens for failing to show the respect officers feel is owed to them, and teaming up on post-incident paperwork to ensure most bad deeds went unpunished.

But in the three years since that recording leaked, it appears little has changed. Officer Goines' willingness to fabricate a story to engage in a no-knock drug raid -- a narrative that included a nonexistent informant and drugs not purchased from the raided residence -- shows he had little worry of being outed by other officers, much less criticized for his lawless behavior. Here's how defense lawyer Mark Bennett phrased it after it was discovered Goines used a fictional informant and drugs from his own vehicle to craft a search warrant:

If you can't read/see the tweet, it says:

This doesn't happen if the cops don't feel safe doing it.
They don't feel safe doing it if there are honest cops around.
They always feel safe doing it.

Incidents like these aren't isolated. It's not a rare bad apple. You don't get to this point if you're surrounded by good cops. You get to this point because no one cares about smaller violations of trust or bent rules. The cops who get caught are the ones who have everything come off the rails at once. That happened to Goines: his drug raid produced death and injuries, resulting in a ton of public scrutiny and whole lot of questions Goines and the officers that enabled him aren't going to be able to answer satisfactorily.

And there will be questions. The FBI has announced it will be investigating the fatal drug raid. If Goines doesn't want to go to jail for lying to federal agents, he's going to have to provide truthful answers that will possibly see him jailed for other charges.

There's also a chance a whole lot of lawsuits will be filed against Goines and the Houston PD in the near future. The Harris County District Attorney says it's going to be looking into every criminal investigation Goines touched during his years as a law enforcement officer.

The Harris County District Attorney's Office has launched a review of more than 1,400 criminal cases spanning Houston Police Officer Gerald Goines' 34-year career.

Twenty-seven of those cases are active.

“Our duty is to see that justice is done in every case,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said. “Although the criminal investigation of Officer Goines is ongoing, we have an immediate ethical obligation to notify defendants and their lawyers in Goines' other cases to give them an opportunity to independently review any potential defenses."

One case may have already been dismissed simply because Officer Goines was present during the arrest. His fellow officers, who were unwilling to step up and report Goines for previous misconduct, will now see their work undone as the DA's office makes it way through Goines' three decade paper trail. Current prosecutions are likely to end up dismissed and any ongoing investigations he was involved in will probably be put on hold. Any one of the 1,400 cases being looked at could result in litigation that could drag his fellow officers into court to defend themselves against civil rights violation allegations.

Does this mean everything Goines did was illegal? Of course not, but the ease with which he fabricated a narrative to support a deadly drug raid suggests he's been coloring outside the lines for a long time and receiving zero pushback or criticism for doing so.

Filed Under: art acevedo, da, drug raid, fbi, gerald goines, houston, police


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  1. identicon
    Pixelation, 27 Feb 2019 @ 4:03pm

    "The heroin central to the raid appears to have been taken from the console of an officer's squad car"

    If this was used as evidence to get the warrant, isn't that planted evidence? Wouldn't that be a crime?

    I suppose the officer could claim it was for personal use...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2019 @ 4:16pm

    Re:

    There's a lot of things about this case that appear to be crimes. And not one of them committed by the subjects of the raid.

    Lying on a sworn statement for a warrant? That's perjury.

    Lying about where you got the drugs? That's planting evidence.

    Firing away as soon as you kick in the door? That's excessive force.

    Covering up or tampering with body cameras? Obstruction of justice.

    On, and on, and on...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 27 Feb 2019 @ 4:27pm

    Should we trust the FBI to investigate this raid in good faith?

    Considering the history of the FBI such as their contempt for private oversight of police violence, I'd say we should not.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 27 Feb 2019 @ 4:38pm

    Re: Should we trust the FBI to investigate this raid in good fai

    It would certainly be worthwhile to take any of their findings with a grain/block/warehouse of salt, but in this case I suspect that pure self-interest could be enough to keep them honest.

    Between the two murders, blatant lies, and magically appearing drugs/magically disappearing CI's this case is already really nasty in the public eye, and if they come out in support of the cop who's lies this time led to two death they'd only be making themselves look bad. Much easier to throw a handful of badges under the bus for some easy positive PR.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Whoever, 27 Feb 2019 @ 4:42pm

    Re: Re:

    There's a lot of things about this case that appear to be crimes.

    You forgot: possession of a controlled substance.

    There was no law enforcement purpose behind him having the heroin in his car, so he should also be indicted for possession.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Personanongrata, 27 Feb 2019 @ 5:58pm

    Cause and Effect

    FBI, DA's Office Open Investigation Of Fatal Houston PD Drug Raid

    Any investigation that does not include examining law enforcement's egregious use of no-knock warrants, SWAT and paramilitary tactics in searching for evidence of a potential crime is setting into motion another wretched series of events that will predictably lead to other wholly preventable tragedies.

    Police state expediencies should never be mistaken for justice.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Personanongrata, 27 Feb 2019 @ 6:00pm

    Re: Re: Should we trust the FBI to investigate this raid in good

    That One Guy (profile), 27 Feb 2019 @ 4:38pm

    _Re: Should we trust the FBI to investigate this raid in good fai-

    Absolutely FBI would never tell a lie. (HAHA)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    ECA (profile), 27 Feb 2019 @ 6:15pm

    Still waiting for the shoe..

    Does a person do this JUST to look good?
    Something had to be found..or someone had to be shoot..
    There is a missing piece here.
    The Raid found nothing of consequence..

    If this person went, Enny, meany minny mo...Then he was a REAL f' idiot. This is Texas..the odds of finding a gun, is pretty high..having someone who knows HOW to use a gun, is pretty high..

    A revenge hit?? x lady friend??
    How about being PAID to hit a residence?? what are the odds, 1 of those dead persons had a Bad person or X-spouse...that said somthing to this cop..Paid him a few bucks and told him BAD info. to roust them...
    Nothing to find, nothing to be done, just a SWAT from the city police..

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2019 @ 6:53pm

    Maybe the FBI should conduct a no-knock warrant on Officer Goines and his family.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 27 Feb 2019 @ 9:25pm

    OMG his display name is LEARN TO CODE!!!!!! Talk like that can get you timed out on the twitters!!

    Because as a flaming shitball society has deemed being offended is a capital crime & cops executing people is just the price we have to pay to be 'safe'...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2019 @ 9:26pm

    If Goines doesn't want to go to jail for lying to federal agents, he's going to have to provide truthful answers that will possibly see him jailed for other charges.

    Not necessarily. If he is at all competent, he or his union representative will secure a good lawyer. If the lawyer is any good, the lawyer will ensure Goines says nothing whatsoever to the FBI. "Lying to the FBI" is easy to fall into if Goines says anything the FBI later decides was insufficiently truthful - but it's also relatively easy to avoid by refusing to speak with them at all on any subject, even seemingly innocuous ones. They particularly like those, because the interviewee is less likely to be on guard against trick questions.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Bruce C., 27 Feb 2019 @ 11:07pm

    He'll _need_ a good lawyer...

    There's a cluster of big civil rights lawsuits waiting in the wings for their cue. And now that he's under the microscope, every bit of skullduggery is likely to be unearthed, if only under grand jury seal.

    The DA isn't reopening investigations because it's the right thing to do, he's just limiting the liability of his office when the lawsuits start. Another good way to limit their liability is to go after Goines hard and make him out as a rare bad apple, rather than part of a system that condoned such behavior until it backfired.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Feb 2019 @ 2:30am

    Hope Abides

    "Any one of the 1,400 cases being looked at could result in litigation that could drag his fellow officers into court to defend themselves against civil rights violation allegations."

    AND one of the murdered civilians in this case (at least temporarily) knocked down four of the bad cops. These facts together might make the more cowardly, self-serving cops think before colluding with the most persistently evil ones. Not perfect, but SOME room for celebration.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    Bamboo Harvester (profile), 28 Feb 2019 @ 6:12am

    Re: Re: Should we trust the FBI to investigate this raid in good

    Regarding the officer, the first question should be "Why did he want them dead?".

    As to the FBI and "throwing badges under the bus", after 34 years on the force he's got a Judge or three in his pocket to issue Warrants.

    No mention of all the Warrants the issuing Judges validated being reviewed. DoJ won't take that hit on this one, they'll burn the cops.

    Remember 20 or so years back when the FBI lab got caught faking evidence? They were going to "reopen all cases handled by 'those people'". They re-opened half a dozen and found them still guilty, then went dark.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Rog S., 28 Feb 2019 @ 6:35am

    Houston SWAT will now wear bodycams

    The initial news coverage of corrupt and criminal police incidents hasn't changed since the post Klan era, even with the narrative.new multi -Kultural Kommunity Klubs running narrative.

    Here ’s dirty piggie media boilerplate, in case youve never seen it:

    ...Houston police officer rushed into gunbattle "because I knew my guys were down"

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/houston-shooting-police-art-acevedo-officers-shot-gunbattle- today-2019-01-29-live-stream-updates/

    ....
    A veteran Houston police officer who was shot after rushing into a gunbattle at a suspected drug house to help two of his wounded colleagues said he had to do it "because I knew my guys were down," the city's police chief said Tuesday. The officer, who has been on the police force for 32 years, was shot for the third time in his career Monday, Chief Art Acevedo said at a press conference.

    "'I had to get in there because I knew my guys were down,'" Acevedo said the officer, 54, wrote in a note. "That just speaks volumes as to this man and just his courage under fire."

    Four officers in total were shot Monday, and a fifth suffered a knee injury in the gunbattle, which stemmed from an attempt to serve a search warrant. Acevedo didn't identify the officers because they all work undercover in narcotics.

    The police department said in a statement later Tuesday that the 54-year-old officer was shot in the neck and listed in serious but stable condition. At the press conference, Acevedo described the officer as a "big teddy bear" who was also shot in the line of duty in 1992 and 1997.

    "He's a big African-American strong ox, tough as nails, and the only thing bigger than his body, in terms of his stature, is his courage," Acevedo said. "I think God had to give him that big body to be able to contain his courage because the man's got some tremendous courage."

    ....note to self: add this to "things I dont want on my Tombstone. ”

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Jane Vaginahat, 28 Feb 2019 @ 6:39am

    Re: Still waiting for the shoe..

    But who will protect the vote -for -anything -that -increases -poluce -power women like me from bad guys, if we take these goid police off the "target and murder disabled people beat " ! ?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Feb 2019 @ 6:50am

    In fairness to Acevedo

    But in the three years since that recording leaked, it appears little has changed.

    The leaked recording was given when Acevedo was in Austin. He is now working in Houston, obviously.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    Richard M (profile), 28 Feb 2019 @ 8:18am

    Re: Still waiting for the shoe..

    An earlier article said that the women's mom called the cops on her for using drugs in the house. Yes a 58 year old women had the cops called on her by her mom.

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20190215/13325441605/fatal-houston-pd-drug-raid-apparently-predic ated-drugs-cop-had-stashed-his-car.shtml

    I am guessing the cops figured it would be an easy bust and ramped it up to dealing to give them an excuse to for the no-knock warrant and go in guns a blazing.

    Because where is the fun in just getting a regular possession bust when you can get a chance to legally kill someone.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Feb 2019 @ 9:24am

    Re: Houston SWAT will now wear bodycams

    Holy hell that last paragraph is beyond awkward

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Feb 2019 @ 10:09am

    Re:

    The other possibility is that he could lie to the FBI without them being able to prove it. As was noted, many cops will lie to protect other cops, and it may be hard to get a perjury conviction from a jury that heard several other cops agree with the story.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    bob, 28 Feb 2019 @ 11:58am

    Re:

    Why should more people die because of Goines?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Feb 2019 @ 1:40pm

    In a system with incentives for officicers of law enforcement for racking up as many arrests and convictions, it is completely logical to have outcomes like this. Some are more motivated than others to push the envelope. Be afraid.. Very afraid.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Rog S., 28 Feb 2019 @ 11:07pm

    Re: Re: Houston SWAT will now wear bodycams

    ...yeah, I got the impression the hero guy is COURAGEOUS, and also COURAGEOUS, with heapin Texas sized helpins of COURAGEOUS.

    But maybe I read Acevedos comment wrong or something.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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