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.

Filed Under: dennis tuttle, houston, houston pd, police, raid, rhogena nicholas


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 12 Sep 2019 @ 1:32pm

    'What do you mean it didn't work this time?!'

    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.

    Given how often a badge acts as a 'get out of personal responsibility'-free card for actions up to and including murder I bet they were surprised that they were actually facing potential consequences for their actions. Now, if the jury/judge will follow through and rightly nail them to the wall for killing two people that'll make things all the better.

    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.

    The only way I could see that possibly being true is if they are looking at literal cases, since last I checked most containers are lacking in the intelligence to commit crimes.

    You do not get two cops falsifying reports based upon bogus reports by fictitious informants and supported by drugs that were pulled from a cop's car unless things are really rotten and they are very sure that they'll get away with it. If they were willing to do something that brazen it is almost literally impossible to believe that the rest of the department is squeaky clean, especially given what outside investigators have found and the fact that the department has had to be threatened with legal action to release information relating to the killer and his partner.

    Given all that as the article notes if he's not finding anything he's not actually looking.

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

    • identicon
      David, 12 Sep 2019 @ 1:49pm

      Re: 'What do you mean it didn't work this time?!'

      Now, if the jury/judge will follow through and rightly nail them to the wall for killing two people that'll make things all the better.

      I am not holding my breath. Sounds like a new DA in town who hasn't been clued in yet how things work. This will cost him more years in career advancement than it will the officers committing the murder and coverup.

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 12 Sep 2019 @ 3:04pm

        Re: Re: 'What do you mean it didn't work this time?!'

        Oh almost certainly, I mean you can't start holding police accountable for their actions, immunity from legal consequences is the biggest (unofficial) perk of the job!

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

        • identicon
          David, 12 Sep 2019 @ 3:51pm

          Re: Re: Re: 'What do you mean it didn't work this time?!'

          Qualified immunity is quite an official perk of the job. If it weren't, police hiring criteria would not include being stupid enough that you can plausibly claim ignorance of the law.

          Smart policemen are a liability for their department.

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

    • icon
      Jeremy Lyman (profile), 13 Sep 2019 @ 5:01am

      Re: 'What do you mean it didn't work this time?!'

      "outside investigators have found and the fact that the department has had to be threatened with legal action"

      Exactly. The claim of no "systemic issues" is patently false. You didn't clean up this mess yourself before externally forced to, therefore your system is corrupt. Your officers MUST police each other and this is what happens when they don't.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2019 @ 1:34pm

    Am I the only one who kept reading "Chief Avocado?"

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2019 @ 1:44pm

    Could these two cops have killed some of their OWN dealers for "sampling the merchandise" or for not handing over enough of the money they made???

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Sep 2019 @ 9:02am

      Re: Who says the cops aren't just 'robbing and murdering' by gun

      What's to say this is the first time these cops have broken into someone home, killed them, and then reported the 'crime scene' after all the valuable merchandise 'walked off' of the victim's home?

      This seems to be the logical progression...

      1. Cop kills real bad guy ... no consequences, congratulations and high five's all around.
      2. Cop kills unarmed teen of different race in the back while the kid is running away... no consequences, congratulations and high fives.. er condolences all around and fake mourning
      3. Cop kills wife's lover in his home after finding out about his wife's affair... gets partner to plant drugs and claims it was a drug bust gone bad... no consequences, congratulations and high fives all around for 'taking a drug dealer off the street'
      4. Cops target couple seen withdrawing large amount of cash from the bank (that the bank notified the cops about, to 'alert' them to where the cash is), cops kill couple and plant drugs, lying about the reason, source of information, actual information...

      cops charged with Murder.... OMG the system is broken, cops are being held liable for their actions.

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

  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Sep 2019 @ 1:52pm

    What he said:

    We've been looking at a lot of cases and we have yet to see it again, any evidence of any systemic issues[.]

    What he meant:

    We’re ignoring any evidence of any systemic issues in the hopes that the heat dies down so that we can go back to Standard Operating Procedure.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2019 @ 1:53pm

    "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."

    Hmmm..... eyes wide shut perhaps?

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

  • identicon
    Brad Jones, 12 Sep 2019 @ 2:13pm

    This strikes me as a bit surprising. Generally for felony murder charges, the victim's death must have resulted from the commission of an inherently dangerous felony such as burglary, arson, robbery, rape, or kidnapping. These are crimes that, by their very nature, carry a foreseeable risk that a person would killed in the course of the commission of the underlying felony.

    Tampering with government records is certainly a felony. And I can see the argument that falsifying an affidavit in connection with a police raid, in fact, creates a foreseeable that death could result. But that risk is also a bit more removed, to me, than the traditional felony murder crimes. I'm not sure the State will get the murder charge if this goes to trial, even if it prevails on the tampering with records charge.

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

    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 12 Sep 2019 @ 2:29pm

      Re:

      That may be their strategy in letting the defendants off. Over charge them so the court will not allow it to go to trial. If their serious, they could include lesser charges as well, and let the jury decide which is appropriate.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2019 @ 3:36pm

      Re:

      It is interesting that you do not consider what they did to be dangerous.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2019 @ 3:49pm

      Re:

      Conjuring up a dealer level of drugs and a gun to justify a swat raid involves foreseeable danger to the suspects.

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

      • identicon
        David, 12 Sep 2019 @ 5:10pm

        Re: Re:

        Sure. That's what turns this from police work into swatting, reckless endangerment for thrills' sakes. That's where the qualified immunity defense gets spread a bit too thin to cover the whole thing.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Sep 2019 @ 9:25am

      Re:

      For what it's worth, the facts here are pretty comparable to the false police report in the swatting case from Wichita. The Defendant there got two years: https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/14/us/swatting-sentence-casey-viner/index.html

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

    • icon
      Jenflamer (profile), 19 Sep 2019 @ 4:52am

      Re:

      If the state doesnt get the murder charge , how are we supposed to feel safe in our homes

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

    • identicon
      Derric Saville, 15 Jan 2020 @ 7:02pm

      Re: identiconAnonymous Coward

      The felony murder conviction has a better chance here; where the HPD officer knew the warrant was bad, brought his "no knock team" with him, to a home of lawfully abiding citizens, planted drug evidence, claimed in writing HPD was met with return fire, and the United States Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCSI) was able to do their search of the premises four months after the incursion and prove through statistical analysis that Goines lied about all of it, including the drugs...oh and the original tipster was the female occupant's mother who claims she suspected her daughter was using drugs and likely wanted it to stop.
      So mom got her daughter killed, the corrupt police exposed, an office likely jailed for life, his pension ended, his spouse (if he has one relying on a different source of retirement income). The rule here, if there is one, don't call the cops on your adult children because you don't like their life choices.

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

  • identicon
    Chris Dial, 12 Sep 2019 @ 2:16pm

    Maybe they were looking for Buttle instead and the wires got crossed somehow?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2019 @ 6:48pm

    Poochie's not going to like this, is he?

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

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 12 Sep 2019 @ 7:49pm

    Death penalty

    This is one situation where the death penalty should be in play. Then maybe, just maybe, other police officers might begin to take notice.

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

    • icon
      urza9814 (profile), 13 Sep 2019 @ 7:09am

      Re: Death penalty

      Nah. Let them rot in prison. Let them complain; let them appeal; let it get media coverage again and again. Let them rot and make sure the rest of 'em KNOW that's what is happening, let the other corrupt cops (redundant, I know...) never stop worrying if they're going to be next.

      This doesn't happen often enough that we can let it fade away so quickly.

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

      • identicon
        Deej, 15 Jan 2020 @ 7:06pm

        Re:Death penalty

        Sarcasm: Is it time to build a prison just for former police officers, and have it staffed by people who were wrongly imprisoned?

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 12 Sep 2019 @ 8:09pm

    AND??

    The Judge that signed the warrant??

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 13 Sep 2019 @ 12:18am

      Re: AND??

      What of him? Are you suggesting he was in on it, or are you saying that he's culpable because he took sworn statements from officers rather than going and interviewing informants and finding evidence himself?

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

      • icon
        ECA (profile), 13 Sep 2019 @ 8:38pm

        Re: Re: AND??

        In the original story line its that the Cops had watched the house for 2-3 weeks...And still didnt have any names of those inside.
        Taking pictures and Getting the ID from about them should have been the first thing..
        Then locating the Land owner, If it was a rental, wouldnt be hard..City records..
        If THEY OWNED the land, thats at City records also.,.
        Then goto DMV and look up the pictures to see Who they are...

        Then the thought comes to mind...How many people WENt to that address...Is there a List and ID on them?>?

        How often did they get deliveries, or did they Leave the premises for things like FOOD..
        ...
        then lets ask..
        the First person in is Padded, and protected, and STILL shoots the dog..Which I find Shockingly Stupid..
        BECAUSe you should be SCREAMING THAT YOU ARE A POLICE OFFICER...THIS IS A RAID.. And no mention of persons covering the back of the building..
        Since they DIDNT know who they were, even tho it was PROBABLY PUBLIC RECORD...

        For all of this...What reason? everything has been thrown out..Whats left?
        Not money,
        Property??
        He liked the Lady ALLOT??
        He hated them?
        A court case??
        His Ex wife?? Her Ex husband??

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

  • icon
    mechtheist (profile), 13 Sep 2019 @ 4:41am

    For what reason did this happen?

    Why did these effed up cops do this in the first place? They don't have enough to do? What did the mother claim? If it was just seeing some drugs getting enjoyed, WTF? If it were up to me, every arrest these guys made that resulted in a conviction would be thrown out.

    Why aren't more folks disgusted with the mother's actions? Would she try that again if she has any more children smoking some weed or doing a a few lines of coke? Who needs corrupt cops when your own mother will turn you in?

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

    • identicon
      Annonymouse, 13 Sep 2019 @ 11:35am

      Re: For what reason did this happen?

      Maybe the mother was stupid enough to believe that the cops would intervene and help stop their drug use? And yes there still are people stupid enough to believe cops are there to help them.
      Otherwise you have to think the mom wanted them dead. Who needs to hire a hitman when you have cops who will gladly do it for no cost to you and just pick up some souvenirs for the scene.

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

  • identicon
    Captaincinders, 13 Sep 2019 @ 6:10am

    This is only part of the story

    There was the botched forensic investigation, the shooting through the wall at an unsighted target, the murder of the dogs, the investigation of Goines for suspect theft of drugs, guns and money.

    Also missing is that the officers water allowed to surrender themselves having been charged with first degree murder. What happend to blue lights, dtawn weapons and handcuffs? Oh yes, blue privilege.

    Given that the drugs used for the search warrant came from Goine's car, what confidence do we have that the drugs found in the house were not planted? Motive, Means and Opportunity.

    Oh yes, considering the usual prosecution of piling on the charges, what happened to the lying to a judge, possession of narcotics and the multitude of other offences that could have been added?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Sep 2019 @ 9:15am

    So mom called the police, the police kill her daughter. Great work mom.

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

  • identicon
    Smartassicus the Roman, 14 Sep 2019 @ 2:22pm

    Waitaminnit

    "Maybe no cop on the force is as awful as these two."

    The cops who murdered Jeremy Mardis.
    The cops who murdered Kelly Thomas by beating him to death.
    The cops who blew up Bau Bau Phonesevah (sp?)
    The cop who thought I'd suck his cock over a $57 ticket and not turn him in with audio.
    The cop I know who personally helped cover up a murder.
    The ... oh skip it. I know too much about cops.

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

  • icon
    Jenflamer (profile), 19 Sep 2019 @ 4:45am

    Well said

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


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