Drug War

One Deadly Drug Raid and Two Red Herrings

Neither gun control nor uncritical support of the police can stop the violence required by the war on drugs.

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After a drug raid killed a middle-aged couple and injured five narcotics officers in Houston last week, the head of the local police union blamed people who criticize cops, while the police chief blamed politicians who fail to support the gun control policies he favors. The real cause was a fundamentally immoral war on drugs that routinely requires violence in response to peaceful activities.

Hours after the deadly attack on the home of Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas, Joe Gamaldi, president of the Houston Police Officers Union, condemned "the ones that are out there spreading the rhetoric that police officers are the enemy." He warned that "we're going to be keeping track of all y'all," and "we're going to be holding you accountable every time you stir the pot on our police officers."

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo later rebuked Gamaldi for his "over-the-top" remarks. "Joe Gamaldi's emotions got the best of him," Acevedo said. "This had nothing to do with any of the stuff that he was talking about."

Yet Acevedo could not resist tossing out his own red herring by criticizing "elected officials" who fail to address the "proliferation of firearms in the hands of people that have no business having guns." The Washington Post praised Acevedo for seizing on the horribly botched drug raid to reiterate his support for "sensible gun safety policies" such as "reinstatement of the assault weapons ban," "a ban on high-capacity magazines," and requiring that "unlicensed private dealers do background checks at gun shows."

All of those policies were plainly irrelevant to the incident that supposedly illustrated the need for them. Neither Tuttle nor Nicholas had a criminal record that would have disqualified them from buying firearms, and the revolver that Tuttle reportedly fired at the police officers who invaded his home was not an "assault weapon." Nor was it capable of accepting a "high-capacity magazine."

The actual circumstances of the shootout at 7815 Harding Street point to a different culprit. Based on an anonymous tip and the word of a confidential informant who claimed to have bought heroin from Tuttle, undercover narcotics officers obtained a "no-knock" search warrant that authorized them to break into the house without warning, which they did around 5 p.m. on January 28.

The first officer through the door was carrying a shotgun, which he immediately used to kill one of the couple's dogs. According to the official police account, which we have to rely on because there is no body camera video of the raid, Tuttle responded by shooting the officer, who collapsed on a sofa in the living room.

As Nicholas moved to disarm the intruder, police say, his fellow officers shot her. Tuttle returned fire, and he was also killed.

Although press coverage of the raid generally portrayed the injured police officers as the victims, that surely is not the way it looked to Tuttle and Nicholas. Amid the noise and chaos, it is plausible that Tuttle did not even realize that the armed men knocking down his door, killing his dog, and shooting his wife were police officers. They were not wearing uniforms, and in any case Houston had recently seen a series of home invasions by robbers masquerading as cops.

Nor is it clear that Tuttle and Nicholas, who had lived in the house for more than two decades, were actually selling drugs. Police did not find any of the heroin that their confidential informant claimed to have seen in the house the day before, and neighbors, who described Tuttle and Nicholas as "wonderful people" who "never bothered anyone," said they had not noticed any suspicious activity.

Even if the neighbors were wrong and the police were right, the so-called crime they were investigating, which involved nothing more than the voluntary exchange of drugs for money, cannot possibly justify the armed assault they mounted. If police officers don't want to be portrayed as the enemy, they should stop acting like the enemy.

Ā© Copyright 2019 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  1. Even if they were the worst drug dealers in the city, the law shouldn’t allow for police officers to be judge, jury and executioner. The fact that they weren’t just makes it that much more deplorable.

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    1. Great idea, until the cops break down your down, shoot you dead, and confiscate that BMW.

  3. Maybe the question should why did the cops want these to people dead? This seems more like an execution than a raid. They obviously knew enough about these people to know how they would respond.

    1. From what I’ve read in other articles, the police knew very little about the couple — their grounds for the raid were shaky and they’d done little to verify the claims. Going in plainclothes and no knock is almost always stupid.

      1. Going in plainclothes and no knock is almost always stupid.

        This should pretty much be reserved for certain hostage/terrorist situations and escaped violent felons.

    2. It’s probably not that the cops wanted people dead, but that the “confidential informant” has a quota of snitches per month to keep him out of jail, and was falling behind.

      1. I bet the informant had some kind of beef with them and lied to the cops as revenge and a way to get out of whatever trouble he was in.

      2. The “confidential informant” was a figment of the lead officers imagination. They do not exist, the officer made up a story about a CI buying morphine and told that lie to the judge to get a warrant. This is a felony that lead to deaths the officer could be charged with felony murder for. It is also a case of “violation of rights under color of law resulting in death” and is being investigated as such. This is a crime which can carry the death penalty and federal investigators are investigating it as such.

        I hope this officer has a good legal team and has made plans to provide for his family should he be able to so it due to his crimes.

  4. “…it is plausible that Tuttle did not even realize that the armed men knocking down his door, killing his dog, and shooting his wife were police officers. ”

    Really?? Shooting the dog wasn’t a dead giveaway??

    1. Really? You think only police shoot dogs when invading someone’s home? You think criminals carry guns during home invasions but wouldn’t shoot a watch dog that was protecting it’s owners?

      Really?

  5. Not to mention all the fishing expeditions going on non-stop that causes millions of more cop-citizen interactions a year than necessary. We need less than half the number of cops than we currently have.

    1. We should put all these excess cops on foot patrol on the border.

      Two problems solved!!

      1. Coyotes beware!

        1. But my dog identifies as a coyote.

          1. The cops don’t care what your dog identifies as, they’ll still kill it for fun.

        2. no, relocated coppers beware. City coppers almost never come up against the likes of los zetas, nor of sinaloa.

    2. We need less than half the number of cops than we currently have.

      I’m sure there’s a common ground between halving the number of cops and increasing the number of *d*etectives. At least, getting Chicago’s 18% murder clearance rate up closer to the national average of 60% and getting that number up as well doesn’t explicitly void my libertarian sensibilities intrinsically.

      But that would require lots of smart people to do hard work and wouldn’t be near as successful at filling prisons as no-knock raids and shooting dogs.

      1. Then they should stop hiring defectives.

  6. “They were not wearing uniforms, and in any case Houston had recently seen a series of home invasions by robbers masquerading as cops.”

    Robbers masquerading as cops, cops masquerading as robbers.

    Moral of the story – when they come thru the door, shoot em all and let Gawd sort em out.

  7. “If police officers don’t want to be portrayed as the enemy, they should stop acting like the enemy.”

    Not going to happen. Its going to get worse. What until they start coming after us for thought crimes.

  8. “The first officer through the door was carrying a shotgun, which he immediately used to kill one of the couple’s dogs. According to the official police account, which we have to rely on because there is no body camera video of the raid, Tuttle responded by shooting the officer, who collapsed on a sofa in the living room.

    As Nicholas moved to disarm the intruder, police say, his fellow officers shot her. Tuttle returned fire, and he was also killed.”

    Whatever became of the castle doctrine?? You enter someone’s home forcibly, you deserve whatever you get.

    These pigs deserve to be Mussolini’d in the town square.

    1. Someone not in a uniform kicks in your door and shoots your dog. What person would not fire back if they had a weapon? In an endless stream of horrible examples of police shootings, this one might be the worst of them all.

  9. Yeah, it couldn’t possibly be the fault of plainclothes officers bursting into a home with no warning and shaky justification.

    Also, the homeowner was armed with a six-shot revolver. If six-shot revolvers are a problem, we’re looking at total disarmament … but we already know that’s what they want.

    1. As a half step, I am sure reasonable people would support the Barney Fife law: you get one bullet to keep in your pocket, and your revolver stays unloaded until an emergency.

      1. They shouldn’t have anything more lethal than a rolled-up newspaper.

  10. Remember that there are people who want America to act as the World’s Policeman and realize that this is what American policing looks like. Everything’s a threat, everybody’s guilty, and some people aggressively fail to grovel sufficiently. “Bomb the shit out of them and take their oil”, as someone once said, and killing innocent family members in indiscriminate bombing of civilian targets is a feature not a bug.

    1. Yes, I read Chris Kyle’s book a few years back before he was murdered. He talks about the house clearing raids they did looking for insurgents in Iraq. US cops are basically our version of that but less concerned about collateral damage.

      1. I remember back in the 70’s when SWAT was developed for hostage situations like bank robberies. Only a few major cities had them. Now every Mayberry RFD has one and instead of special situilations, they’re SOP.

        1. My rural Texas county (

          1. Dang, open tag got me.

            My rural Texas county (population less than 30,000) Sheriff’s department asked for a SWAT team. The reason was to make it safer for deputies serving arrest and search warrants since that is the most dangerous job police are asked to do. I asked if there was any data backing up that statement, if any police or deputy in the county has been injured or killed serving arrest and/or search warrants. All I heard back was crickets.

            Also, I thought “domestic disputes” was the most dangerous part of the job. No wait, it was traffic stops are the most dangerous part of the job. Reality is driving like an idiot without a seatbelt is the most dangerous part of the job.

      2. If an infantry squad in a Iraq kicked in a door based on this amount of evidence and murdered the couple inside and it turned out they were not insurgents, several people would be going to jail and a whole lot of carreers would be over.

        The truth is we hold our military to a higher standard of behavior and give foreign populations more protection from their behavior than we give American citizens protection from the police. That is a national disgrace.

      3. Serious question: how many cops ARE returned Iraq war vets?

        1. I don’t think very many. I think this shit is cops trying to be military rather than the military infecting cops. I would like to think someone who has actually seen combat would be smart enough to want to avoid kicking in a door with someone waiting for them wanting to do them harm inside.

          1. I don’t think very many. I think this shit is cops trying to be military rather than the military infecting cops.

            It can be two things.

            I certainly give credit to combat veterans where credit is due, but dishonorable discharge is a thing and there’s plenty of facts on the ground that, while exceptional rather than the norm, not every veteran comes out of combat in the same shape, even if honorably discharged.

            I certainly agree that all these local PDs aren’t/can’t be overrun by aggravated veterans.

            1. But I don’t think anyone with a bad discharge is getting hired as a cop. You have to be convicted of a crime to get a bad conduct or dishonorable discharge.

            2. From my 24 years of military service, I can tell you with 100% certainty that an honorable discharge does NOT guarantee the person isn’t a complete shitbag. It’s difficult to kick someone out with less than an honorable discharge due to the lifelong impacts of the service characterization. It usually gets reserved for the worst of the worst.

          2. On the other hand, combat vets might expect that most people inside the door may be dangerous, and accustomed to techniques like overwhelming shock and awe–stuff more appropriate to a war zone than a domestic neighborhood.

          3. After my son got done with his LEO training in Houston and decided not to work for HPD, every interview he went to, he was the only who wasn’t already an HPD officer trying to get an easier gig or a veteran.

  11. I want to hear more about the alleged buying of heroin. Did a cop watch the guy even go in or what?

  12. There’s a video on YT that someone here linked to last week. It seems that 7815 Hardy was the drug house, not 7815 Harding. That house has the surveillance system mentioned in the first cop press conference, whereas the besieged house had no cameras. Hardy also looked like the stereotypical drug house.

    They got the wrong house, plain and simple.

    1. Yeah the first post in Reason on this case mentioned that there seemed to be some confusion about the address during the chief’s press conference. It seems at least possible that they went to the wrong house, murdered two completely innocent people, and are now covering their asses by smearing the victims. I hope the family gets a good attorney and gets every document in the case and depositions from every cop, dispatcher and judge involved.

  13. >>>drugs for money, cannot possibly justify the armed assault

    no, it cannot.

  14. elected officials” who fail to address the “proliferation of firearms in the hands of people that have no business having guns.

    On WHAT basis do these “elected officials” hold that these two innocent folks fall into the category of “people that have no business haivng guns”? Is it that they were careless enough to live at an address the cops chose for a no nock raid, in informationi from a likely paid informant who had everything to gain and nothing to lose by SWATTING that house? That’s the only thing I can think of.
    WHY do coppers continue to bribe known criminals with easier sentences, or none at all, for making up false reports on innocents? This is far from the first time this has happened…. and the “reports” always seem to come from known and indicted dirtbags, who have already proven their disdain for law and justice by their criminal behaviour. THIS is part of the fallout from the stupid, ineffective VERY costly, useless, unconstitutional “war on drugs”.I have read and reread my copy of the Constitution, even examined a few borrowed ones, and I’ve never been able to find any place in there that assigns the duty to FedGov to regulate, restrict, ban, prohibit anything we do/do not put into our bodies.

  15. I blame the politicians who instead of raising police wages lowered the standards when they couldn’t attract qualified candidates. Police forces used to only accept the best of the best, throughout the training process they weeded out those who didn’t meet the standards. In 1963 I applied to the CT State Police. I took a written exam with 1,500 other potential candidates. Unfortunately I was drafted before I could proceed further. I followed those that did and out of 1,500 candidates 50 reached the training school. 25 graduated.
    Today you see 125 Lb women wearing police badges.

  16. Selling drugs is “peaceful”, seriously? Gee why are scores shot in Chicago every week, if drug dealing is so peaceful? If these two idiots were so “peaceful” why are three police officers dead? I will not argue that the war on drugs has been anything more than an utter failure. It has failed because we have focused on stopping the flow of drugs rather than addressing the reasons people feel they need them. Happy successful people do not use drugs, even for “recreation”. As a nation we ignore that countries like Mexico are run by governments making billions by protecting and harboring drug cartels. They fein “fighting the war” to get billions more in aid for idiot politicians in the US. All of this aside, these two morons killed three police officers and sadly for them, they did it in Texas. At a time when other states are pondering the morality of using the death penalty for capital crimes, my state is putting in an express lane and the people of Texas have no problem giving these two exactly what they have asked to get.

    1. “why are three police officers dead?”

      What are you talking about? No police officers were killed, five were injured, some quite possibly by their incompetent comrades. Tuttle had a 6 shot revolver. He had to grab the gun when someone breaks in the house, shoots the dog, shoots his wife. How the hell did he manage to squeeze out 5 shots, that hit their target before a memeber of the “highly trained” SWAT team could end his life?

      And by the way, HPD found no heroin in the house.

      Disgraceful

  17. The police are the bad guys in this story. There is no excuse for the “War” on drugs, and the harmed caused by the so called “war” is worse than the great harm that drug addiction and use can cause. How about that war on marijuana use … it really ended in a “victory” for the police. Right?

    Users who are addicted to drugs, or who are using drugs to their detriment, need help getting off drugs and not harassment and death at the hands of the police. We’d be much better off, as a society, if drugs were legal.

  18. Yeah, well except that drug dealers tend to be armed and prepared to shoot. In fact, the guy mentioned here was armed and prepared to shoot.

    I don’t need to hear another alleged journalist claiming they comprehend what it is to go thru a door knowing that there may very well be a guy on the other side waiting to shoot you. A guy that WANTS to shoot you. In Cincinnati, a cop was just murdered under similar circumstances. Not the first time.

    The graveyards are full of cops that waited an extra second to make sure.

    1. Who is the moron that thought this “no-knock” BS is a good idea? When they charge through the door blast the dog with a shotgun, what are the odds the people inside here that it is police? I’d say almost zero.

      They also were not wearing uniforms.

      This was an incredibly stupid attack by the police.

    2. So why are you going through the door again, Gomer?

    3. Okay – you read the part about the resent spate of home invaders who posed as cops right? I’m thinking it is a good idea to keep a gun where he could get to it. Second, NO the graveyards are NOT full of cops who waited to long to shoot. According to the FBI there are an average of 85 killed each year in the US. That number does not include those who died due to accidents. Citizens killed by police average over 1000. Policing is not even in the top 10 of most dangerous jobs. But cops being convince they are in grave danger at every turn account for a great number of people — many not even armed — being killed. Your comment about graveyards full of dead cops is the kind of ignorance that perpetuates the problems. The real information is easily available online and since you commented here you obviously have access to the internet. Perhaps take some time to learn the truth to keep you from defending murder of citizens while you invent martyrs that do not exist. And since the neighbors described the residents as lovely people with no suspicious activity such as people coming and going and there was no heroin found at a house where police claimed was sold based only on the word of someone who need to keep himself out of jail by coming up with tips for those police maybe you wanna wake up and realize the cops murdered two innocent people — unlikely I know since you are pretty comfortable trumpeting lies but one can hope

    4. And how many drug dealers have you known? Because I’ve known quite a few, and even been one myself, and they are no more likely to be “armed and prepared to shoot” than anyone else. In fact I think drug dealers are probably LESS likely to shoot at unknown intruders, simply BECAUSE they are more likely to assume the intruders are police. (On the other hand, if police don’t want to be shot, maybe they shouldn’t be “going through the door” without knocking and with weapons drawn in the first place.)

    5. You don’t get it. I don’t care how you feel going through that door. I don’t care if you’re pissing yourself or getting an erection. Or both. What matters isn’t how it feels, but why you’re doing it. If you are going through the door to stop an innocent person from being violently assaulted, or if it’s the only way to catch someone who has already violently harmed someone, then great, I wish you all the luck in the world and I hope you make it home safe.

      But I don’t want you going through that door because someone broke a law that tells two consenting adults what they can or can’t do, whether it’s selling the wrong substance to someone, having sex with the wrong someone, gambling on the game, or whatever. Leave those people alone. And if you are so reckless as to go through a door with gun in hand without being damn sure whose door you are going through, which have been what happened here, and it’s a question of you or the occupant’s dog, or wife, then I want you to get your head blown off, so that everyone who comes to your funeral is reminded that some of the sheep have sharp teeth.

  19. The police are basically criminals at this point.

  20. I hope Joe Gamaldi reads these comments. He’s a tyrant scumbag parading as a decent human being. Keep a watch on awl yawl of us you tinpot hayseed. šŸ˜€

  21. Acevedo has a point about politicians failing to keep guns away from people who shouldn’t have them. (Although I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the point he was trying to make.) Police in the country go to great lengths every day to prove that they can not, should not, be trusted with firearms. Time the American people took notice.

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