Search and Seizure

Houston Narc Who Lied to Justify a Deadly Drug Raid Had Been Accused of Perjury

"I don't have any indication it's a pattern," Police Chief Art Acevedo says.

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Houston Police Department

The day after the January 28 drug raid that killed a middle-aged couple and injured five undercover narcotics officers, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo lavished praise on Gerald Goines, the 34-year veteran who had been shot in the neck after breaching the door and entering the house to assist his wounded colleagues. "He's a big teddy bear," Acevedo said. "He's a big African-American, a strong ox, tough as nails, and the only thing bigger than his body, in terms of his stature, is his courage. I think God had to give him that big body to be able to contain his courage, because the man's got some tremendous courage."

Acevedo struck a different note on Friday, when he described Goines as a liar who had broken the law and embarrassed the department by inventing the heroin purchase that was the pretext for the raid, during which police killed Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas in their home at 7815 Harding Street. But as Keri Blakinger and St. John Barned-Smith reported on Friday night in the Houston Chronicle, there were warning signs that Goines was not a paragon of police professionalism long before he invented a confidential informant and a controlled buy to justify the no-knock search that put him in the hospital but did not discover any evidence of drug dealing.

"Previous allegations surfaced about Goines in at least two drug buys, with the officer accused of lying under oath and mishandling drug evidence, and questions arising about his use of a confidential informant," Blakinger and Barned-Smith write. One case, where witnesses contradicted Goines' testimony tying the defendant, Otis Mallet, to a stash of crack cocaine, is still making its way through the courts. "The new evidence discovered in this case shows that Officer Goines testified falsely and that no drug deal, as described by Goines, took place," Mallet's lawyer wrote in a brief. "Mallet was convicted based on Goines' perjured testimony."

Blakinger and Barned-Smith also note incidents in which Goines was reprimanded for unprofessional behavior, including threats of violence, and a confrontation in which Goines was shot while undercover by a man who believed "the officer was menacing him with a weapon." A grand jury declined to indict the man, which suggests his fear was reasonable in the circumstances. "Despite the occasional reprimands," Blakinger and Barned-Smith say, "Goines generally garnered positive evaluations."

Here is the best defense of Goines a former supervisor could muster: "He was a good narcotics officer. He's not corrupt, but he's lazy with his paperwork. He has a history of not doing his reports until afterwards." Even if Goines was never "corrupt" in the sense that he was on the take, sloppiness like this is a warning sign of someone who is cutting corners in a way that can not only jeopardize cases but get people killed, as happened here.

Acevedo says police will be examining a sample of Goines' cases to see if there is a pattern of dishonesty, which would cast doubt on any convictions in which the officer's testimony played a role. At this point, Acevedo said on Friday, "I don't have any indication it's a pattern and practice." Maybe he should read the Houston Chronicle.

While Acevedo's view of Goines has evolved, he is not ready to modify his portrayal of Tuttle and Nicholas as scary heroin dealers. A reporter at Friday's press conference noted that relatives and neighbors "told us…consistently, 'These were not drug dealers. These were nice people. Sure, they may have smoked some pot, but…we've known them for 30, 40 years, and this is not who they were.' And it turns out, they were right."

Acevedo pushed back. "We all have seen people that murder people," he said. "We've all seen people that molest their kids. We've all seen people that have done some horrific things. And guess what the neighbors always have said? 'Oh, my God. I never knew. I thought they were the nicest guys.' So I'm not going to go there with you, and I'm not going to make any conclusions on that until we've finished the investigation."

Except that Acevedo already has drawn conclusions by claiming that "the neighborhood thanked our officers" for the raid "because it was a drug house" and "a problem location." Even after the faked warrant was revealed, Acevedo insisted that "we had reason to investigate that location," and "the investigation continues to show that." But the only evidence he has been able to cite, aside from Goines' fabricated "controlled buy," is a January 8 call in which "the mother of a young woman" reported that her daughter "was in there doing heroin." Goines' subsequent "investigation" was so slipshod that he did not even know the names of the people who lived in the house.

Acevedo condemns Goines' invention of probable cause yet seems to assume the accuracy of all the other information he's been fed about the case. He cites the supposed gratitude of "the neighborhood" as evidence that Tuttle and Nicholas were heroin dealers yet dismisses the accounts of actual neighbors who have said not only that the couple was perfectly nice but that they never noticed any suspicious activity at the house—the sort of activity that had to be occurring for the place to be locally notorious in the way Acevedo claims it was.

As I've said before, this operation would have been reckless and senselessly violent even if Tuttle and Nicholas were selling drugs. But it looks like the only evidence police had on that point was a tip from an anonymous woman and the fabrications of a dishonest narc, neither of which was sufficient to establish probable cause for a search. Why is Acevedo still calling Tuttle and Nicholas "suspects" when they were clearly the victims of an illegal home invasion?

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  1. It’s mentioned in the Chronicle artlcle linked in the story, but Goines also had what in hindsight looks like a really shady shooting in 1999, where it got passed off as road rage. Cliffs: Goines claimed, while in his own non-department car, and in plainclothes, that another driver got mad at him and brandished a pistol at Goines. Goines chased (like you do), the other driver shot first, he exchanged pistol fire with the other driver, and killed the other driver. AIUI, there were no other witnesses to this shooting.

    Anyway, it’s discussed in the Chronicle article. It’s looking like this guy was a loose cannon for a very long time. God only knows how many of his cases are going to have to be revisited. It might not be as bad as the fallout from the Houston City crime lab scandal from a few years ago, but I predict there’ll be some criminals who will have their convictions vacated from this. And before you all start, not all of those criminals will be perfectly non-violent people who just happened to get caught up in the Drug War.

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    2. He seems to really get off on the whole gun thing. He has shot and has been shot so much that it passes the point of part of his job into something kind of creepy.

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  2. First off, there is no such thing as a, “Good Narcotics Officer.” All are, by definition, assisting in the destruction of freedom and liberty in these United States. The drug war is immoral at every level. There is NO reasonable justification for it and there are limitless arguments against it.

    Goines should be charged with, at a minimum, manslaughter, but second degree murder is a better charge. From the evidence presented so far, he knew that there was no probable cause, no reasonable suspicion. His lies lead, directly, to the death of two innocents who did nothing more than to choose to use a mind altering substance in the privacy of their own home.

    Time to stop this war before it claims any more lives.

    1. At LEAST 2nd degree.

    2. First degree. Is not perjury a felony, especially something under color of law like this, especially when it apparently involved illegal drugs, which he had no legal reason for possessing? That’s premeditation of some kind of crime all ways from Sunday.

      Then add in two deaths and 5 wounded cops. Does that not count as two murders in the commission of a felony?

      This guy belongs in jail for the rest of his life.

      1. Yes. Under Texas law, any death that occurs in the commission of a violent felony is murder, regardless of whether the felony offender himself actually did the killing.

        1. Perjury itself is not a “violent felony”, so maybe the felony murder rule doesn’t apply, alas.

          1. If the warrant wasn’t valid, then the entry was an armed burglary. That is a violent felony.

            1. They need to be put in prison and made to wear their police uniforms everyday while serving long, long prison sentences.

  3. >>>Acevedo pushed back. “We all have seen people that murder people,” he said. “We’ve all seen people that molest their kids. We’ve all seen people that have done some horrific things.

    Acevedo should stop. Just shut up.

    1. I have seen neither of those things. I have seen police do horrific things

  4. Why is Acevedo still calling Tuttle and Nicholas “suspects” when they were clearly the victims of an illegal home invasion?

    He wants to repeat a lie often enough until it becomes the truth?

    1. He’s really grasping at straws at this point. He’s dug into a hole and has no choice but to continue to slander 2 innocent murder victims. Not that he gives s shit. I have to say I’m impressed that the local press seems to be calling his bluff. The initial coverage I saw was all some version of “crazed heroin dealer injures 5 heroic LEOs and blah, blah, blah”. It appears now that Acevedo is what the media likes to call “embattled”. And thanks again to Reason for covering this story.

      1. It worked with Eric Garner. Even the wikipedia entry on “loosie” says “In 2014, Eric Garner died when NYPD officers attempted to arrest him for allegedly selling loosies.[4]”

      2. We still haven’t found out how many people Tuttle shot. If the press was interested in the truth, that should have pressed all along. The press is being forced into “calling his bluff” and doesn’t really care that much about the victims either. They could on their own start referring to them as victims by using brackets to replace the incorrect word in a quote.

    2. To what end? Is there any hope now of saving Goines’s reputation?

      1. Its not Goines Acevedo’s worried about – its Acevedo.

        1. Can’t he serve himself best by throwing Goines to the wolves?

  5. One single lie to a police officer, a judge or a federal agent is enough to convict someone. Even if the lie was simply a case of poor memory rather than deliberate intent.

    So why do we need a pattern of misbehavior to consider a cop to be a liar?

    1. The “pattern of behavior” was not about Goins’s known lies, etc., before this raid, but in regards to whether what they now know about Goins requires going through all the old cases in which he was involved under the assumption that Goins lied or planted evidence whenever he could get away with it.

      And I agree that getting caught in a lie material to an investigation or criminal case _one_ _time_ should end a cop’s career, since all his testimony becomes unreliable. And if the police union interferes, prosecute the cop for perjury and let the felony conviction bar him from police work forever. (Most likely the union should also be RICO’d, but somehow they never are – did Congress exempt unions from RICO?)

  6. Why is Acevedo still calling Tuttle and Nicholas “suspects” when they were clearly the victims of an illegal home invasion

    Because he’s afraid his ass is on the line?

  7. 1) Gerald Goines, the 34-year veteran will be the sacrificial lamb.

    2) The problem is systemic as any Public Defender office will tell you as they see facially void search warrants, insufficient warrant descriptions of things and places, police searching areas in excess of where the search warrant specifies….

  8. “We all have seen people that murder people,” he said. “We’ve all seen people that molest their kids. We’ve all seen people that have done some horrific things. And guess what the neighbors always have said? ‘Oh, my God. I never knew. I thought they were the nicest guys.’ So I’m not going to go there with you…”

    Here is video of Acevedo talking to Goines about Tuttle and Nicholas.

  9. By the way, what prompted the change of tone by Houston police? To them this was a heroic raid until it wasn’t. It doesn’t seem to have been their own internal investigation but public outcry thanks to reporting by papers like the Houston Chronicle.

    1. There is no good media!!!!!

    2. The Chron is being forced to face facts. They have no interested in honest reporting but this is something that they can’t ignore.

  10. Imagine if a white narcotics officer lied to get a black couple killed. Something tells me the media would be more interested in such a case than it is in this one.

    1. Good point.

    2. We need a White Lives Matter movement

      1. Start one and the time it takes for the Left to label you a White Supremacist will be a useful example of the shortest amout of measurable time possible….

        1. The Planck News Cycle.

          1. ^ Well done. ^

    3. I agree John but it’s also the victims’ association with drugs that diminishes their humanity for many. Duterte types are the extreme example of that attitude. Trump to a lesser degree. The fear and loathing of drug users is an enduring madness.

    1. Who comes up with that?

      1. Frickin’ geniuses, that’s who.

  11. *If* the reports are true and the guy lied to get around the 4th Amendment and invade someone’s home – then that would be corrupt even if he didn’t end up with any extra money in his pocket. Stealing money is corrupt, but so is stealing liberty.

    1. Or just lying. Corruption doesn’t lead to stealing anything.

  12. “He’s a big African-American, a strong ox, tough as nails…

    He managed to say “Big Nigger” without actually saying it.

    1. I think Chief Avocado has shown himself to be a walking gaffe machine, which isn’t funny since people are dead, but otherwise it would be hilarious.

  13. I’m radioactive.

    http://www.azcentral.com/story…..876435002/

    1. So a state with a self declared “rogue” leader has been storing radioactive uranium for decades. This could get interesting quick.

    2. Weird situation. The numbers they list for radiation exposure rates don’t make sense for a bucket of U-238. The fact the Geiger counter didn’t pick up any radiation 5 feet from the bucket, does though. IIRC, its output is alpha radiation, which is only going to harm you if you swallow it or inhale it, and then the heavy metal poisoning will probably kill you first.

  14. Trump causes another hate crime.

    http://hotair.com/archives/201…..s-getaway/

  15. I’m just glad somebody that doesn’t just act as a stenographer for the PD is following this story. Maybe some day we’ll get around to taking a closer look at the prosecutors who are every bit as corrupt and lawless as the cops.

  16. This lying fuckwad got 5 of his buddies shot.

    And now those stupid fuckers are going to stand up for him.

    Moron idiot motherfuckers.

    1. The world would be better off if all of them were not in it.

  17. It’s funny, even the Babylon Bee is now featuring stories that mock the police

    “Police Officer Claims He Feared For His Life After Shooting Family’s Roomba To Death”

    1. Everybody knows robots have killer laser beams – – – – –

  18. A grand jury declined to indict the man, which suggests his fear was reasonable in the circumstances.

    Oh, I think it suggests a heck of a lot more than that. The Grand Jury failing to indict someone for shooting a cop – undercover or not – suggest that if Goines was not a cop *he’d* be the one under indictment.

  19. So who actually did ‘injure’ all those cops?
    We ever gonna find out?

    1. Cops were injured in an officer-involved shooting. Blame will not be assigned.

      1. All policies and procedures were followed…

  20. Why is Acevedo still calling Tuttle and Nicholas “suspects” when they were clearly the victims of an illegal home invasion?

    “Oh, very well. ‘Alleged suspects’, then.”

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  23. So, the pretext for the invasion was a crime. Then the invasion itself was a crime. And two people died, making it a capital offense. I’ll gladly volunteer to be Goines’ executioner. At no cost to the state.

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  26. Where are the police cucks that come in here on everyone one of these pieces to tell us how much cop cock we should all be gobbling? Its almost like even they can see how deluded they are.

    1. Don’t worry; they’ll pull themselves together and come back to tell us this is just an isolated instance of a bad cop.

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  29. As a retired LEO, the investigation into the actions of this officer need to be removed from his department and conducted by an independent agency. It appears there maybe enough evidence to convene a Grand Jury, at some point, to determine if he should be charged in the deaths of the two people involved.

    This should also serve as a further condemnation of “no knock” warrants. The justification for these is few and far between and the jeopardy to the lives of both police and inhabitants of homes far outweighs any positive aspect as witnessed by previous negative results where police have been killed or injured when not recognized as law enforcement and home owners have been killed or injured, some murdered by police, when they had the wrong address and the home owner was simply defending his family and himself. In those cases sovereign immunity should not apply and the police should be held accountable the same as any citizen who had invaded a home and killed the occupants. The excuse of “oops, wrong address, sorry”, is of little comfort when you’re at the funeral home. Perhaps then “no knock” warrants would become a thing of the past, exactly where they belong.

    1. there maybe enough evidence to convene a Grand Jury

      The problem with that idea is that the Grand Jury process is based on the assumption that the prosecutor wants an indictment and will make a case for it to the jury. Usually, when cases of police violence go to a grand jury, the prosecutor does NOT want an indictment and instead acts as a defense attorney for the accused officer. Grand juries will almost always give the prosecutor what he asks for, whether it’s an indictment or a no-bill.

    2. In Tennessee an officer involved shooting would be handled by the state bureau of investigation and those investigations have generally been regarded as factual and based on good forrensic standards.

      I have been publicly skeptical of no-knock raids since the shooting of Ken Ballew Jun 1970 Silver Spring MD.
      Rarely is it beneficial to the the safety of the raided or the raiders to pump up the volume like that.

  30. Chief Assinvader is trashing a dead couple’s reputation. He think Goines, who lied on his affidavit, was still basically correct.

    Stay classy, Chief Assinvader.

  31. What bullets hit the 4 undercover police officers? The reported story is that Dennis Tuttle “opened fire with a .357 magnum revolver”. A six, maybe seven shot revolver and he hits four police while under a barrage of fire upon he and his wife (their dog is already down)? Reports are that only firearms taken from the house are a 12 gauge shotgun, 20 gauge shotgun, a Remington 700 bolt action rifle, and a .22 cal rifle; no handguns. Did the crew coming in the back door start shooting because of the shotgun blast fired by the police to kill the dog? 357 magnum is a pretty tough round and even though the bullet usually deforms after hitting, the bullet(s) are found; we have even found a bullet that split into two, almost equal halves, after hitting soft tissue and pulverizing bone, then, passing through and ricocheting off a couple of interior walls. With what bullets were the police officers hit?

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  33. I want to know when the Cop going to be charged with first-degree murder. In a commission of a crime someone dies your charge with murder.

  34. Let’s not forget that right after the shooting, police union president Joe Gamaldi angrily blamed the shooting on rhetoric painting cops as “bad guys.”

    If you are a police union president, and one of your members stands accused of eating a baby, you’ll go on the news proclaiming how the cop heroically resisted eating a second baby

  35. On the justification of the raid in which the family dog, Rhogena Nicholas, and Dennis Tuttle were shot to death and five officers wounded, “… the only evidence he [HPD Chief Acevedo] has been able to cite, aside from Goines’ fabricated “controlled buy,” is a January 8 call in which “the mother of a young woman” reported that her daughter “was in there doing heroin.” …

    Wasn’t the call from Rhogena Nicholas’ mother who wanted someone to intervene because her daughter was doing drugs in her daughter’s own home? And found in the search was small user quantities of marijuana and cocaine, and not dealer quantities of drugs, no heroin, and no dealer paraphenalia (scales, baggies, cash)?

  36. Why is Acevedo still calling Tuttle and Nicholas “suspects” when they were clearly the victims of an illegal home invasion?

    Because Assholevato is an asshole?

  37. Too bad all the narc aren’t dead. Goines needs to ride the needle.

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