Drug War

Grand Jury Backs Murder Charges Against Houston Cop Who Lied to Justify a Deadly Drug Raid

Additional grand juries will investigate possible wrongdoing by other narcotics officers, including the way the raid was conducted.

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"Because officers lied, people died," Harris County, Texas, District Attorney Kim Ogg said today at a press conference where she announced a grand jury indictment of two former Houston narcotics officers who were involved in a January 2019 drug raid that killed a middle-aged couple in their home. The indictment confirms the state charges filed last August against Gerald Goines, who is accused of lying to obtain the warrant for the raid, and Steven Bryant, who is accused of subsequently backing up Goines' false portrayal of Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas as dangerous heroin dealers.

Both men are accused of tampering with a government document, a felony punishable by up to two years in prison. Because Goines' misrepresentations caused two deaths, he is also charged with two counts of felony murder, which could result in a life sentence.

"The grand jury held officers of the law responsible for killing innocent people and their dog in their home," Ogg said in a press release. "Our Constitution guarantees that Americans should not have to fear their government—and when agents of the government violate our rights, they will be held accountable. Our investigation continues, and we anticipate presenting additional evidence to additional grand juries in the future."

Ogg said the second phase of her investigation will focus on additional allegations against Goines, a 34-year Houston Police Department (HPD) veteran who has been accused of stealing money and framing other people, as well as possible wrongdoing by other members of the HPD Narcotics Division's Squad 15. Her office is reviewing some 14,000 cases developed by the 11-member squad, looking for inconsistencies suggesting that people were arrested or convicted based on false information. Dozens of cases already have been dismissed.

"If anyone out there is a victim or has information about somebody else who may have been harmed by Officer Goines or any other person associated with this investigation," Ogg said, "please contact the district attorney's office." Ogg mentioned one such case: Otis Mallet, who was arrested by Goines for crack dealing in 2008 and served two years in prison, has long maintained that Goines fabricated the case against him. During a hearing last week, Mallet's lawyer presented an affidavit from the prosecutor who was initially assigned to that case. She said she had recently become aware of inconsistencies between Goines' expense reports and his trial testimony that would have justified dropping the charges against Mallet.

The third phase of Ogg's investigation will focus on the raid itself, which began when an officer crashed through the front door without warning and immediately used a shotgun to kill a dog. According to the HPD, Tuttle responded to this assault by firing at the officers with a revolver, and the officers fired back. Tuttle and Nicholas were killed, and four officers, including Goines, were wounded by gunfire, although the source of those rounds remains unclear.

A forensic expert hired by Nicholas' family disputed key parts of the HPD's account, including the claim that Tuttle fired at the officers as they entered the house and the claim that they shot Nicholas because she was trying to disarm the officer with the shotgun. "We are looking at the involvement of everyone in the squad," Ogg said. "Each officer on that squad, including those seriously injured, understands that they are under a prosecutorial microscope."

Goines and Bryant also face federal charges related to the raid. According to a federal indictment unsealed in November, Goines began investigating Tuttle and Nicholas based on a false tip from Patricia Ann Garcia, who lived across the street from the couple. To justify a search warrant, Goines later admitted, he invented a "controlled buy" of black-tar heroin by a nonexistent informant—a fiction that Bryant, who was mentioned in the warrant affidavit, helped confirm after the raid, which found no evidence of drug dealing. The federal indictment charges Garcia with conveying false information to the police, Bryant with obstructing justice by falsifying documents, and Goines with violating Tuttle's and Nicholas' Fourth Amendment rights under color of law.

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  1. It’s a bit redundant, right? These two already received federal charges.

    Wake me up when they add additional defendants, or at least sanction the judge who rubber-stamped this warrant.

    1. Judges will never be prosecuted for this type of shit. It would be a fascinating world if they could be, if the entire government apparatus could actually be held responsible for their malfeasance.

      1. I don’t think the judge necessarily needs to be prosecuted, but some kind of censure would be nice. Barring that, it would be nice for the public to know whose name ended up on the warrant-I haven’t even seen that information if it’s available anywhere.

        If that judge is facing re-election, his voters deserve to know that he’s authorizing no-knock warrants without even asking enough questions to realize that the police officer didn’t know the names of the residents in the house. I’m not asking for a lynch mob to harass him, just an informed voter base.

        1. Keep in mind these guys have gotten thousands of other warrants, probably not all from just the one judge. How many other judges are out there right now rubber-stamping warrants? How many of them need a reminder there might be consequences for not doing their jobs?

        2. This judge does need to be held accountable, for criminal negligence (IANAL) if nothing else. His duty is to make sure warrants are valid; if he was supposed to just rubber stamp everything, they could hire a minimum wage part timer.

          How many of these warrants did he see? Did it never occur to him that something was fishy boilerplate? Is he this sloppy during trials?

          This is his job, and people died because he was lazy and careless. How many thousands of other warrants has he rubber-stamped, how many innocent people are in jail because of it, and how many real criminals are still loose because of it?

          No excuse.

          1. We’re lucky to get the indictment and most likely punishment of a couple years probation on a suspended sentence.

            Judges, like DA’s, cops,‘ and all other gov are above the law. Also, I don’t trust this DA at all. Wasn’t she in on the coverup initially? Fuck her. Acting like she’s actually defending the people.

            1. No officer of any level of government, or any public employee, should be above the law. Especially the ones who can take away people’s lives and property. The progressives talk about evil corporations all the time, but never about evil government. the never mention how government has powers that no corporation does – to take away from people their lives and belongings, to send them off to die in a war, to strip them of every “right” in the constitution. Corporations are nowhere near as evil as government.

              And I used to be one of those government employees.

  2. Still waiting for coverage of the Project Veritas video.

    And now, coverage of the Democrat Governor of Virginia declaring a state of emergency before a protest by advocates of the 2nd Amendment.

    Luckily these 2 stories aren’t related so there’s no overall conclusion to drawn by the lack of coverage.

    1. R Mac
      January.15.2020 at 8:38 pm

      Still waiting for coverage of the Project Veritas video.

      The silence is deafening.

    2. Yeah, I was wondering where the coverage for Virginia is. It’s funny that he’s trying to do that, because back in early 13 the state passed a bill that explicitly states that “nothing in the Emergency Services and Disaster Law shall be interpreted to limit or prohibit the otherwise lawful possession, carrying, transportation, sale, or transfer of firearms.”

      So even if the liberals want to argue the meaning of “to bear arms”, its hard to argue that he has the power to do this.

      1. He has the power to do whatever he can get away with.

        I hope 50,000 men with rifles show up anyway just to clarify what he can get away with.

    3. Here it is https://reason.com/2020/01/17/gun-rights-groups-sue-over-virginia-governors-emergency-ban/

      Death penalty for government officials whose willful actions in violation of the Constitution result in death.

      1. +1 electric chair

  3. Tuttle and Nicholas were killed, and four officers, including Goines, were wounded by gunfire, although the source of those rounds remains unclear.

    Legally, isn’t the (alleged) source Goines?

    1. Well, that’s redundant. The warrant is linked in the article.

  4. First time a dog has ever been named a victim by a DA. I hope those involved die slow. I hope all their kids don’t grow too.

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  6. It’s a start. But, even if not charged criminally the rest of that entry team needs to experience some sort of sanction. They clearly thought silence was their best option after everything went to shit.

  7. Because officers lied, people died…

    This is, of course, unlike the more common and very permissible people-died-and-then-officers-lied.

    1. Officers lied, people died, officers lied some more.

  8. Denzel Washington’s character in ‘Training Day?’

  9. “Because officers lied, people died,” Harris County, Texas, District Attorney Kim Ogg said today…

    She made it rhyme, so proof.

  10. A big question is WHY? They just wanted to look good with lots of “busts” or making some petty cash, few hundred here and there they can skim?

    It’s completely wrong no matter what but we could understand motive if it was tens/hundreds of thousands of dollars that lured them to this dark side. But it appears much more petty than that, killing innocent people or framing and sending them to jail in exchange for some pocket change. If it is all found to be true, these cops are among the worst of criminals.

  11. And you thought ‘Training Day’ was just cinematic exaggeration?

  12. “The whole good cop/bad cop question can be disposed of much more decisively. We need not enumerate what proportion of cops appears to be good or listen to someone’s anecdote about his Uncle Charlie, an allegedly good cop. We need only consider the following: (1) a cop’s job is to enforce the laws, all of them; (2) many of the laws are manifestly unjust, and some are even cruel and wicked; (3) therefore every cop has agreed to act as an enforcer for laws that are manifestly unjust or even cruel and wicked. There are no good cops.” ~Robert Higgs

  13. I”m waiting to see some more action on the carton og “drop bags” of heroin found in Goines’ trunk of his cruiser, along with, as my memory has it, a traceless “drop gun” handgun. Since he was hit and taken out of action (its not often I am GLAD something like this happens, but this time I am.. it bustd the whole thing wide open cause he was not able to concoct a story to cover it all from his hospital bed.
    Seems he would be in knowing possession of a Sched One controlled Substance, precisely the type of thing he accused so many others of. and who knows hw many of those were “set up” by one of the bags that had already been “deployed” out of that carton in his luggage boot? Or how many were also falsely charged with possession of a firearm while in possession of a controlled substance, a big fat enhancement? This GOines creature needs to be locked up for a LONG time. or, better yet, take a nice long dirt nap the way his two victims are. IF he did indeed murder this pair, or arrange for their murder as part of his false setup, he SHOULD be executed. Given the nature of his killing, I should think the firing squad would be most suitable. Hood off, just like his victims were.

    1. You’re too kind. Drawn and quartered would be more appropriate.

  14. Cases like this should concern every honest citizen.

    If we strip all cops of the right to lie in a warrant, execute innocent people in their own home, steal all their money then lie to cover it up, good luck finding anyone who wants to be a cop.

    I think the Harris Police Department has a right to ask, does the public have their back, or are the going to be criticized for every little sham warrant, fake evidence, civil seizure and double execution that comes along?

    #onlybluelivesmatter.

  15. Sullum’s coverage of these murders is Pulitzer Prize journalism.

    1. +many more than one

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