Drug War

Houston Narcs Were 'Clearly Labeled' During Deadly Drug Raid, Police Spokesman Says

In light of armed robberies by criminals posing as cops, that might not have been enough.

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Houston Police Department

A Houston Police Department spokesman said the narcotics officers who broke into a middle-aged couple's house last week and killed them in the ensuing shootout were wearing "tactical gear clearly labeled 'police'" on the front as well as the back. That detail is important because it helps illuminate the question of whether Dennis Tuttle, who fired at an officer who had just broken into his house and killed his dog with a shotgun, knew the intruder was a police officer.

Last week Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said narcotics officers executing search warrants "don't show up in uniform, but they do show up with plenty of gear that identifies them as police officers." But since he said that "gear" included "patrol officers that are out in front of the house," who would not necessarily be visible to people inside the house, it was not clear whether the men knocking down Tuttle's door were marked as police officers.

Houston Police Foundation

Kese Smith, an HPD public information officer, said they were. Depending on exactly what gear they were wearing (compare the vest front on the left, for instance, with the vest front shown in the photo above), Tuttle might still have overlooked the word police in the heat of the moment. According to Acevedo, the officers announced themselves while "simultaneously breaching the front door," which was immediately followed by shotgun "rounds" that killed the dog. Tuttle responded by shooting the shotgun-wielding officer with a revolver. When the officer slumped onto a sofa, Rhogena Nicholas, Tuttle's wife, reportedly tried to disarm him, at which point one or more of the other cops shot and killed her. Tuttle returned fire with his revolver and was killed as well.

Smith did not know what color clothing the officers were wearing or whether their faces were covered. He said he would check on those details and get back to me. But whatever the officers' appearance, the no-knock "dynamic" entry was reckless, especially in light of Houston's recent experience with armed robberies committed by criminals disguised as cops. There have been several such incidents in recent years, including at least three home invasions in late 2013; two shootings, one of them fatal, on the same evening in 2016; a 2017 attack in which "four men wearing tactical gear ordered people on the ground, attacked them, and then ransacked the house"; and motel-room robberies last year.

Somewhat less alarmingly, four men were arrested in Houston last year for pulling over motorists while pretending to be police officers as part of a YouTube prank. They were equipped with "flashing lights" and a "police badge." It's fair to say that a Houston resident would have ample reason to doubt that armed men forcibly entering his house, killing his dog, and shooting his wife were police officers even if he heard them say so or noticed the word police on their vests.

This sort of operation is designed to catch suspects off guard, partly to prevent them from disposing of evidence. But notwithstanding the advantage of surprise, the cops found none of the heroin they claimed Tuttle and Nicholson were selling. Bursting into a home without warning is also supposed to create alarm and confusion, making suspects easier to subdue. But that alarm and confusion can have deadly consequences, as this case illustrates.

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66 responses to “Houston Narcs Were 'Clearly Labeled' During Deadly Drug Raid, Police Spokesman Says

  1. So, they shoot you in the street because your hand twitched it’s okay, because you made a threatening action.

    They break into your home in a raid, and get shot, it’s the home owners fault for not stopping and clearly reading all the writing written on the clothing of the guy waving a gun at your wife?

    Fuck you.

    1. you left out “Actively murdering members of your family.”

    2. Absolutely a perfect reply. The militarized police force is completely out of control.

    3. Realistically, if the cop was wearing the vest on the left in that picture, it would have been impossible to read because “POLICE” would’ve been covered up by the shouldered shotgun that had just killed the dog.

  2. A shotgun blast has a way of making it difficult to process verbal commands.

  3. There should be way better ways to catch people off guard, if that is the goal. But there should be higher goals. For example, if every time a cop knocks, drugs get flushed, isn’t that a good thing? Is the goal to get rid of the drugs or lock people up?

    1. If there’s little enough narcotics that they can flush them before you can gain entry, did you really need to risk the whole “Sturm und Drang” entry?

    2. I think we all know the answer to that.

    3. The goal is to play commando with people who mostly won’t fight back (unlike the muhajideen).

      1. The soldiers going up against the muhajideen have a stricter ROE than Houston cops.

    4. There should be way better ways to catch people off guard, if that is the goal.

      Clearly you don’t mean approaching them in a calm but prepared manner when they leave their home, right? That’s just crazy talk.

  4. When the officer slumped onto a sofa, Rhogena Nicholas, Tuttle’s wife, reportedly tried to disarm him, at which point one or more of the other cops shot and killed her. Tuttle returned fire with his revolver and was killed as well.

    Fuck off, pigs.

    1. Seriously. That they even ATTEMPT this rationalization when their military style actions led to the direct death of two innocent people makes me fucking furious.

      1. And it *still* got 4 cops put in the hospital.

        They could have hardly done worse if they had knocked on the door.

  5. . . . narcotics officers . . . were wearing “tactical gear clearly labeled ‘police'”. . . That detail is important because it helps illuminate the question of whether Dennis Tuttle . . . knew the intruder was a police officer.

    I don’t think his knowing if they were or weren’t police officers is actually important.

    You bust down the door – wearing whatever – and lead with shooting the dog, why should any law-abiding citizen assume you’ve got ‘legitimate’ (ie, a judge rubber-stamped a warrant) permission to do so? They could have been in full dress uniform – kick down the door and you deserve to get shot.

    1. IMO, the dog’s role is pretty much to establish intent and draw fire.

      Doesn’t matter if you’re the President, if you start your visit by shooting the dog, don’t expect things to go uphill from there.

      1. That’s how Ruby Ridge started to go South: They shot the dog.

        The feds did, much too slowly, pick up on the fact that starting a raid by shooting the dogs was a bad idea. Did they not share this info with the states?

  6. …it was not clear whether the men knocking down Tuttle’s door were marked as police officers.

    Highly trained police officers are given a pass for their incorrect life and death decisions because they only had a split second to make them. Shouldn’t regular old untrained civilians get at least that much leeway?

  7. I see puppy murdering, guns ablazin’, leave no suspects to testify tactics followed Fart Acevedo from Austin to Houston.

    Good riddance.

    1. I don’t live down there anymore, but fuck Austin for sending that motherfucker there.

  8. “It’s not *my* fault that Buttle’s narcotics weren’t in Tuttle’s residence!”

  9. An armed robber probably wouldn’t have led with shooting the dog, so that should’ve tipped then off it was the cops. /sarc

  10. So here are my questions about this:

    * Did they use a flash bang or other device to impair the suspects before hand? Could they even reasonably see the police markings?
    * Was there even a chance for them to arrest the suspects without force? Why were those plans veto’d?
    * If the concern was flushing the drugs couldn’t they of turned off the water before hand, limiting what could be flushed?
    * Is the CI being held for possible false statements to police?

    1. The flashbang was a shotgun blast to the family pet’s face.

    2. IIRC, in this case they didn’t even know who lived at the house yet. Just that the two people were dealing narcotics out of it.

  11. And the cover-up continues.

  12. >>> “simultaneously breaching the front door,” which was immediately followed by shotgun “rounds” that killed the dog.

    Officer Friendly’s 12-gauge blowing up Snoopy crosses a line … i may be over-sensitive to the lives of animals but still bullshit these ladies can’t handle a dog w/o a shotgun.

  13. So we’re dealing with people who are depraved and crazy enough to shoot at cops, but who for some reason keep these tendencies in check until their home gets broken into.

    1. It’s terrifying to think that these type of people are out there in the world.

      1. Narcotics pigs? I absolutely agree.

        1. Way to try to twist my words. Obviously I’m in a state of terror at the idea that there are killers such as these people out there in the world, waiting for someone to break in to their house so they can kill them.

  14. >>> Bursting into a home without warning is also supposed to create alarm and confusion, making suspects easier to subdue.

    this is Texas. that shit gets you shot at.

  15. I think the magistrate (in the case, and many other cases) that seem to rubber stamp warrant applications need to start being held accountable. Based on what I’ve read on this case, I can’t see how this “investigation” required a no knock warrant. We need someone in the judiciary (HA!) to keep these cops in check when they want to play army man and shoot innocent people/pets…

  16. I think the magistrate (in the case, and many other cases) that seem to rubber stamp warrant applications need to start being held accountable. Based on what I’ve read on this case, I can’t see how this “investigation” required a no knock warrant. We need someone in the judiciary (HA!) to keep these cops in check when they want to play army man and shoot innocent people/pets…

  17. I think the magistrate (in the case, and many other cases) that seem to rubber stamp warrant applications need to start being held accountable. Based on what I’ve read on this case, I can’t see how this “investigation” required a no knock warrant. We need someone in the judiciary (HA!) to keep these cops in check when they want to play army man and shoot innocent people/pets…

    1. The horrifying thing, to me, is that this is such a clear violation of Civil Rights that led to the 2 deaths and 4 injured police officers, and outside Reason, almost nobody is running with this story. I despair at the hope of getting actual, effective criminal justice reform when so few people seem to care about stuff like that.

      1. I emailed two reporters for the chron- one is a friend and the other wrote one of the articles- to ask if anyone has asked who got shot by which guns. No one has responded.

  18. Criminals posing as cops?
    Are you sure its not the other way around?

    1. Actually it just seems redundant to me.

  19. Police clearly violate The Constitution every day in every way. Now here is the result of drug laws that began one hundred plus years ago, designed for one purpose and that was so police could kill Blacks Chinese Mexicans etc. This is a fact and easily proved.

    So with your “symbols of hate” that you are tearing down and banning recently our drug laws are the most destructive symbols of hate there are. Throw them out. Many I talk to believe and rightly so government is the promoter of racism but the drug law history is clouded with ‘public health’ nonsense. They care NOTHING for public health.

    Drop the guise of warrants for searches if you are going to have “no knock” warrants! What in the hell is the purpose of that? Insane. And how police can knowingly violate Rights with impunity indicates police forces are riddled with sociopaths.

    The Constitution- read it and follow it or fuck it, make up your minds already. Fuck your constant wars on everything, stop protecting us by killing us or jailing us. Who is the real health threat??? I do not care if those two people had a ton of heroin. Heroin is not a deadly drug unless used with contraindications. They never told you that either did they…. Make an arrest the proper way or run amok. You’re all fucking nuts.

    1. I agree that Teh War On Drugs is a disaster. I wish you would tone down just a smidge, though. I don’t think the anti-drug laws were written so cops could kill minorities, and if they were they were written so the cops could kill the minorities that ran the most criminal enterprises at the time; Kikes, Wops, and Harps (Jews, Italians, and Irish). Much more likely they were written as ‘full employment for redundant Prohibition agents’ measures. I don’t think most cops are sociopaths, at least to start. I think that an unceasing barrage of Drug War and Mean Streets narative, reinforced by the Black Lives Matter hostility preeached by the Left, makes them A) paranoid and B) fantasize about being Eliot Ness. Over time that MAKES them socialpaths, just as over time the Progressive narrative turns young people who might otherwise be sane into Anfitidiots.

  20. So the police should or should NOT have identification as police? Either way, they will be criticized.

    1. That tends to happen when you enforce immoral laws, bust people’s doors down, and shotgun their dogs in the face.

    2. the universe where they knocked and identified themselves is more peaceful today

    3. So the police should or should NOT have identification as police? Either way, they will be criticized.

      You’re right. The “did they identify or not” thing is a red herring brought up by the cops.

      They should be criticized (and prosecuted) for the way they executed the raid and that family whether they identified as cops or not.

  21. Just remember – if a cop *thinks*, in the moment, that their life might be in danger, they are allowed by our legal system to use deadly force, even if the facts show they were wrong.

    If you, a mere citizen, don’t immediately and correctly perceive and process all the relevant information while armed men are invading your home and shooting your wife and dog, well that’s just too bad, because they’re allowed to kill you all the same.

  22. “We don’t suspect anybody of being struck by friendly fire,” he said. “I don’t expect [it], because our people are really well-trained”

    So well-trained in fact that 1 disabled (and from what I heard half-blind) old man with an antique weapon, after being taken by surprise, managed to wound 4 cops wearing body armor and armed with modern weaponry, at which point said squad of cops fled in terror and wouldn’t re-enter until after a robot confirmed that the old man was dead. Let’s face it, there’s really no way you’re gonna be able to paint your goons as “well trained” or “professional”

  23. Eedjit head copper can’t steo out of HIS shoes and comprehend what the two in the house actually saw, heard, felt. Bust down the door, how’s someone gonna hear “police” at the same time? How thick/soundproof was that door, anyway? Follow that up almost instantly with at least two blases from a twelve bore scattergun, almost certainly NOT suppressed, and likely with magnum rounds, NO ONE without hearing protection could survive that and maintain his orientation and situational awareness. I’ve fired my twelve bore magnum with no hearing protection, it is brutally loud, and I’m BEJIND the muzzzle. These poor guys were well ahead of the muzzle tip, likely subject to twice the initial sound pressure I was, and I was OUTSIDE in a large field. INSIDE a closed house? Add to that the trauma of their dog suddenly and inexplicably being murdered in front of them, NO ON was responding per the sanitised, unhurried, logical, pre-disposed train of thought this stupid cop has put forward.

    Shame on him

    1. How about going back and carefully examining the “tip” or “evidence” they had gathered to excuse the warrant they had? Since NO drugs were found in spite of the sudden and shocking intrusion, the informant has to have been wrong. Did he swear that information, under penalty of perjury, to be true and correct? If so, SOMEONE needs to be having a long chat in a small room with one plain table between the two parties to the conversation, which needs to be recorded. If they can’t find the guy, he’s not a “plausible” source of “reliable” information. Who was he, anyway, some two bit drug dealer being shaken out by turning state’s witness so he can plea down and save his own skin?
      Such witnesses out NEVER be heard. They’ve got incentive to “be creative”…. and wrong, just to save their own worthless skin.

      I want some details about the SOURCE of the information supporting that warrant. Justice demands it.

  24. The problem is the government initiating force. The solution is to prohibit it from doing so.

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  26. I am sick of this “flush the drugs” excuse. Like the sewer department doesn’t work with the police department? How hard would it be to block somebody’s sewer connection before serving the warrant? Sure, you’d need a little bit of equipment, but if it saves one life…

    Politely knock on the door, and say, “Police. Please call 911 to verify our identity.” It will save a lot of confusion.

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  32. Perhaps I haven’t been paying attention

    Exactly what drugs were found, and in exactly what quantities?

    1. What the media initially reported was was the cops finding only a small amount of pot (not surprising, since the husband was disabled), and a bag of “white powder” they said they’d need to do lab results on but that they suspected of being coke. Since we haven’t heard anything since about either, I’m going to guess that they stumbled on the wife’s flour or sugar in the kitchen and tried to use it to justify the bloodshed. After all, how many people are gonna follow up the story a week later to see what new details have sprung up?

    2. What they didn’t find was any trace of heroin or any evidence of drug dealing. Although I’ve never been sure what “evidence” found after the fact could ever justify the level of violence used by police.

  33. The police who broke into my house wore black pants and black long-sleeved t-shirts with the word “police” on the sleeve of the shirt. They scream “police! open up!” at the top of their lungs while beating on the door with a battering ram, so any neighbors clearly here the word police, but inside the house, all you hear is your dog barking, your kids screaming in terror, and your door breaking. In a sane society, certainly in one that values freedom and justice as much as Americans pretend to, police would be required to knock on the door, show their badges and the search warrant, and wit to be let in.

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