Photo credit: Melissa Phillip for the Houston Chronicle
By Blaine Hopkins
Two years after Houston Police Department (HPD) murdered married couple Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas, six additional narcotics officers have been charged in the botched no-knock raid.
In 2019, officer Gerald Goines utilized a no-knock warrant to storm the house of Tuttle and Nicholas after lying about a heroin purchase at the residence. Goines routinely lied about suspects being armed and imaginary drug deals to justify no-knock warrants.
Officer Goines was indicted last year on two felony murder charges—his partner, officer Steven Bryant, was indicted for tampering with government records.
Investigations from the Harris County District Attorney’s Office and an independent forensics team had previously proven the innocence of Tuttle and Nicholas.
The investigations also exposed the long history of the narcotics department falsifying evidence to obtain warrants and boost their overtime pay. The falsifying of evidence has resulted in countless arrests and since the raid, at least 200 cases have been dismissed. District Attorney Kim Ogg has stated that such practices must have been done with the support of department supervisors.
The new charges against the six police officers brings the total number of charged officers to 12. Of the officers charged, four are retired supervisors: retired Sgt. Clemente Reyna, retired Sgt. Thomas Wood, retired Lt. Robert Gonzales, and senior officer Hodgie Armstrong.
On Monday, Officer Felipe Gallegos was charged with murder and if convicted, will face life in prison. Officers Oscar Pardo, Cedell Lovings, and Nadeem Ashraf were charged with first degree felonies and officers Frank Medina and Griff Maxwell were charged with second degree felonies for tampering with government records.
In response to the new indictments, both Police Chief Art Acevedo and Mayor Sylvester Turner have worked to sanitize HPD’s narcotics department by isolating officer Goines from the rest of his department. Acevedo shared on twitter that the recently charged officers “had no involvement in obtaining the warrant and responded appropriately.”
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