from the looks-like-'judged-by-12'-it-is dept
We still haven’t seen an end to the fallout resulting from a botched (and bogus) drug raid in Houston that ended with two residents killed by police officers. It also ended with five officers wounded — one of them paralyzed. The raid was predicated on false statements made by Officer Gerald Goines, who secured permission from a judge to perform a no-knock raid, claiming the residents were armed and selling heroin.
While guns were recovered, no heroin was. Indeed, no evidence of drug dealing was recovered — just personal amounts of marijuana and cocaine. The informant that supposedly made the heroin buy never existed and the supposed result of this controlled buy was actually heroin pulled from an officer’s squad car. All of Goines’ lies led to two deaths and five injured officers. Goines is currently facing a slew of charges, including two counts of felony murder.
Other participants in the raid are facing charges as well. KHOU reports six more Houston PD officers have been indicted for their involvement in the raid or for other criminal acts they engaged in while working in the department’s narcotics unit.
On Monday, a Harris County grand jury indicted another officer for murder and five others for engaging in criminal activity.
The six officers indicted Monday are in addition to the six officers who have already been indicted.
Felix Gallegos, the officer charged with murder, fired the shot that killed Dennis Tuttle, according to court documents.
That’s 12 officers, all under indictment, and all involved in the drug raid. Following the ill-fated raid, the Houston PD investigated its own narcotics unit, “discovering” that it had been given free rein for years. Paperwork routinely went unreviewed and unapproved. And that’s when there was any case-related paperwork to be found. In some cases, no warrants were filed. In others, supporting documents were missing. Multiple discrepancies in evidence and expense reporting were also uncovered. This hands-off approach is directly responsible for the travesty the Houston PD calls a “narcotics unit.”
And it’s this hands-off approach that’s led to the charges facing five of these recently indicted officers — all accused of falsifying records to obtain pay for overtime hours they apparently didn’t work. Some of this has been going on for a long time, which means the resulting sentences will be longer, too. Three officers are facing hefty felony charges for this time theft, ones that carry with them a maximum sentence of life in prison:
Oscar Pardo – (HPD) Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity, to wit: Aggregate Theft by a Public Servant ($30,000 or more but less than $150,000) and Tampering with a Governmental Record (1st degree)
Cedell Lovings – (Status Unclear) Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity, to wit: Aggregate Theft by a Public Servant ($30,000 or more but less than $150,000) and Tampering with a Governmental Record (1st degree)
Nadeem Ashraf – (HPD) Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity, to wit: Aggregate Theft by a Public Servant ($30,000 or more but less than $150,000) and Tampering with a Governmental Record (1st degree)
Two more officers — Clemente Reyna and Thomas Wood — have had identical theft charges added to the charges they’re already facing for their participation in the drug raid.
And another two officers are facing lesser theft charges, but ones that still carry potential 20-year sentences. Five of these officers retired as soon as it became clear they might face criminal charges. The other seven are apparently still employed, though that will likely change now that they’re under indictment.
There was a lot of trust to go around in the Houston Police Department. Not a lot of verification, though. It took the senseless killing of two harmless Houston residents to force the PD to take a look at what its officers were doing. And it’s probably going to take several criminal trials to force the PD to actually care about officer accountability so it doesn’t get to the point of felony murder charges and hundreds of thousands of dollars of illegally obtained paychecks before the PD can be bothered to police its own.
This isn’t the final postscript on this horrific incident. There will certainly be more to come, what with a dozen officers facing the possibility of a trial and the PD forced to provide what will certainly be damning information in response to discovery requests.