Police Abuse

Houston D.A. Doubles the Scope of Her Case Review Following a Deadly Drug Raid Based on a Phony Affidavit

After declaring another man arrested by Gerald Goines "actually innocent," the Harris County district attorney says prosecutors are re-examining cases going back to 2008.

|

Harris County District Judge Kelli Johnson last week declared Steven Mallet, who served 10 months in jail after he was arrested for selling crack cocaine in 2008, "actually innocent." Earlier this month, Harris County District Judge Ramona Franklin reached the same conclusion regarding Mallet's brother, Otis, who served two years for his alleged involvement in the same transaction.

Both men were arrested by Gerald Goines, the veteran narcotics officer who spearheaded the January 2019 drug raid that killed a middle-aged couple, Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas, in their home on Harding Street. Goines invented a heroin purchase by a nonexistent confidential informant to justify that raid, which discovered no evidence of drug dealing.

In response to the false testimony identified in the cases against the Mallet brothers, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg has more than doubled the time period covered by her re-examination of cases involving Goines and other officers in Squad 15 of the Houston Police Department's Narcotics Division. "Because of the revelations involving the Harding Street raid, District Attorney Ogg initiated a review of 14,000 cases that Goines and his squad worked over the last five years," a press release from Ogg's office says. "With the Mallet cases now being revealed, that review is stretching further back, to 2008."

If the squad handled 14,000 cases in five years, the total number of potentially questionable cases since 2008 is probably something like 30,000, and it's by no means clear that misconduct by narcotics officers began that year. "The sheer number of the cases that could be involved is daunting," Ogg said. "Even though it is challenging, our mandate is to always and continually seek justice."

Ogg's review is not necessarily limited to cases involving "actually innocent" defendants. "Justice dictates that we continue going through questionable cases and clearing people convicted solely on the word of a police officer we can no longer trust," she said. "When the only evidence of criminal culpability is the testimony of an untrustworthy officer, we are going to work as fast as possible to right the situation."

Prosecutors already have dismissed dozens of pending cases involving Goines. Between 2008 and 2019, according to Ogg's office, Goines worked on 441 cases, which led to 263 convictions of 234 defendants. "The claims that are going to tend to be successful are going to be these one-witness claims," Josh Reiss, head of Ogg's post-conviction unit, told The Houston Chronicle. "How many of those one-witness claims there are in these 263, I don't know. It's going to take some time to dig in, but that's what we're going to do."

The potential problems may extend far beyond the cases initiated by Goines, who faces state murder charges and federal civil rights charges as a result of the Harding Street raid. Another member of Squad 15, Steven Bryant, faces state and federal charges for backing up Goines' fictitious account of sending a confidential informant to buy heroin from Dennis Tuttle. Given the evidence that Goines, who was employed by the Houston Police Department for 34 years, had been framing people since at least 2008, it seems likely that other officers are implicated in that pattern of dishonesty, which would make their testimony untrustworthy as well.

Otis Mallet, who was convicted by a jury, served two years of an eight-year sentence before he was released on parole. He has always maintained his innocence. Steven Mallet spent 10 months in jail before pleading guilty as part of a deal that did not require him to spend any more time behind bars. "He pled guilty because he had been in jail for 10 months and they were offering him a deal basically for time served," said public defender Bob Wicoff. "This happens a lot where people have to get out and resume their lives. They [have] jobs and families, [so] they plead guilty even when they're not just to get out."

NEXT: DC Book Event

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. “Justice dictates that we we continue going through questionable cases and clearing people convicted solely on the word of a police officer we can no longer trust.” How about they dismiss all cases that depend solely on the word of any police officers? None can be trusted.

    1. Or just eliminate victimless crimes. Only allow victims to press charges, whether privately or through the DA. Of course, there’d be plenty of nannies trying to claim their neighbor smoking a doobie is somehow harming society.

      1. This. Crimes have victims, if none can be identified or none want to put the effort into pressing charges then nothing of substance happened and we can all get on with our lives.

        Obviously some exceptions need to be made for murder, a corpse can’t exactly press charges, but in general the idea is sound.

        1. “a corpse can’t exactly press charges”

          No, but that isn’t that precisely what habeus is meant to address – to allow the state to prosecute so long as they produce evidence of actual harm? So, in that sense, the ‘exception’ is already accepted law.

      2. Agree with the elimination of almost all victimless crimes.

        Disagree with the “only allow victims to press charges” extension of that principle. Murder victims are the obvious example of people needing someone else to press charges on their behalf.

        And, no, you can’t rely on family to represent the victim. Homeless orphans deserve to be protected, too.

        1. Murder is the only case where the system shouldn’t require the victim to bring charges.

          1. What about a victim rendered comatose, due to aggravated assault?

            1. Yes I can see a few other scenarios, such as someone being beaten into a coma or similar but how many of these cases are there where there isn’t a family member to press charges. It seems like it would be fairly rare. As for child abuse, that’s a tough one for me. Currently it seems as though Child Protective services has way too much power and latitude when deciding to remove a child from the parents. I’m not sure what the “libertarian” answer is there but I don’t believe the current system is optimal or does enough to respect the rights of parents.

          2. I’d also say cases of child abuse. Only thing worse than our current Child Services System is if we put the incentives on them to convince children to testify against their parents.

            1. Aren’t those incentives already there? Isn’t that how the “satanic cults” from the ’80’s happened which ended up being fabricated by psychologists coaching kids’ testimony?

          3. Victims of intimidation, victims of domestic abuse, unwitting victims of fraud, dupes who refuse to believe they’ve been ripped off, the mentally ill, the mentally handicapped, children…

            There’s a reason the justice system is so complicated. Anyone who tells you differently is either clueless or fanatically dogmatic.

            1. The justice system is complicated because it has nothing to do with finding justice for victims.

      3. While we’re at it, restitution should be paid to the families, not “society” or the state.

  2. I don’t expect cops to ever cross the so called Thin Blue Line, but I wonder if stories like this will ever be enough to change their bootlicking supporters’ minds?

    What’s funny is most of them (all of them?) don’t realized the police they love so much, don’t give a shit about them or their undeserved, unwavering support.

  3. Disappointed by the picture of Goines. I was hoping he’d horribly disfigured after being shot in the face by his fellow cops by that coked-up drugdealer.

    1. I’d settle for woodchipper “accident” related injuries.

    2. I don’t see a date on that photo.
      Could just be his old TxDPS drivers license pic.
      Cheer up.

  4. Ogg is the best thing to happen to criminal justice in Houston in decades.

    1. Idk about that. My initial reaction is she’s cleaning this up vociferously to keep eyes off her and her enabling crew. You think the prosecutors were just totally duped by this guy the whole time? Fuck no. Them and the judges probably knew there was shit like this going on, but turned a blind eye and didn’t ask questions because of all the business the cops were bringing in. It’s the same story all over America.

    2. Gotta go with Granite on this. She’s probably seeing this as a case that could make her career and rocket her into politics or a federal level position. If the entire squad was dirty, people most likely knew. An open secret like Weinstein’s shenanigans.

  5. “The sheer number of the cases that could be involved is daunting,” Ogg said. “Even though it is challenging, our mandate is to always and continually seek justice.”

    That’s not what the Ohio Supreme Court said when it discovered the Lucas County Deputy Clerk of Courts had been handing out warrants without probable cause determinations for 17 years because nobody had ever told her that was her job, she didn’t know what “probable cause” meant and she apparently didn’t know she had the right to refuse to issue a warrant when the cops asked for one. In the immediate case, they ruled the warrant was Constitutionally deficient and whether or not the cops realized it was Constitutionally deficient, which the Court said it defies belief to think that the cops didn’t know full it was not, the warrant was therefore null and void, but we’re not about to declare that every warrant she issued for 17 years is similarly null and void because, Jesus! do you know how big a damn mess that would be?

  6. It’s good to see everyone here on the only federal holiday dedicated to the Supreme Court.

    Happy Precedents Day, everybody!

  7. “Even though it is challenging, our mandate is to always and continually seek justice.” — Harris Co TX DA Kim Ogg

    [sarcasm] How did she get to be a prosecutor? The prosecutors’ mandate is to always and continually seek convictions, and to defend every conviction won fair and square in the court, in spite of the emergence of exculpatory evidence and in spite of the public loss of confidence in justice and fair play under the law when prosecutors defend bogus convictions. [/sarcasm]

  8. Classic prosecutorial overreach.

  9. “Justice dictates that we continue going through questionable cases and clearing people convicted solely on the word of a police officer we can no longer trust,”

    Uhhh, has anyone considered that it might be a bad idea to convict literally anyone based on the word of one man or woman?

    The entire US justice system is a travesty.

  10. It appears that Goines was targeting innocent people. Why, to improve his arrest record? If so, at least that’s a (really bad, horrible) reason. But how did he choose his victims? Was he pissed off at these people for something? Or were they just randomly chosen? Nothing about this makes sense to me. And in case any of you can’t read, I’m not saying anybody but Goines did anything wrong. I’m just curious about why these poor people were chosen for his abuse. Has anyone seen an explanation?

    1. Not randomly chosen. I’m sure all the innocent people were at least suspects in some manner of ongoing investigations. Maybe neighbors had bad things to say about them, or maybe it’s like the Dennis Tuttle situation and one person called in about a specific house. It can start as petty rivalries between people in the community that end up being resolved by the Power of the State.

      Regardless, this guy just believed these people were guilty without wanting to find evidence or do the investigative work, so he cut corners. It’s the danger of self-confirmation; he was so convinced he wasn’t wrong, that he never cared about the consequences of what might happen if he was wrong.

      1. It’s always brought Training Day to my mind.
        Of course, in the movie, they shot and framed the guy to steal his money

    2. It may really be a simple answer. His job is (was) to arrest bad guys. He stops some one on the streets. They didn’t really do anything wrong, and it’s obvious they are not the ‘bad guys’. So, he writes them a ticket for a rolling stop. That’s the last he ever hears of it. After a while, he realizes he can ticket anyone he stops, so he stops lots of people. He begins to come to the attention of his supervisors. Very quickly, he begins to encounter people who have drugs on them. Now, he’s definitely on the radar screen as an up and coming guy, and he’s given resources to go after bigger targets. And guess what? He finds them!!! He’s materially rewarded at every step for his successes. Is this a simple enough explanation for you?

  11. “Even though it is challenging, our mandate is to always and continually seek justice.”

    “Plus, think of the JOBS!”

  12. Still waiting for additional arrests or indictments stemming from that raid last year. You can’t tell me that there’s only two guilty parties in a department that has systemic dysfunction. Even if everyone else involved in that specific raid was a good-faith actor (which seems highly doubtful given that they tried to doctor the scene), there has to be a pattern of behavior at play.

    You think Steven Bryant is the only cop in that unit who ever backed up Goines’ bogus claims? There have to be multiple other officers who verified his fraud in the past. They have perjured themselves and deserve to be arrested.

    1. Disband the unit.

      1. Better yet, turn it into a RICO case and get the whole department.

    2. How is doctoring the scene not a crime? The entire squad should be behind bars.

  13. The very real likelihood that people who should not be incarcerated are should result in the immediate release of anyone not convicted of a crime involving violence or property damage. If only to serve as both a reminder to law enforcement that this is all their own damned fault, and as future incentive for them to better police their own damned ranks.

    That would also then free up more resources to adequately and quickly review the cases of those not so rapidly released.

  14. Why is art Acevedo still the police chief? How did a California highway patrol former chief, who had no law enforcement experience beyond traffic enforcement and auto theft get a big city chief gig? Acevedo still defends the goines murder raid as justifiable. He is quoted as saying “ it’s really important for the community to realize, we still had reason to be at that home”. Fire this guy!

    1. Art Acevedo is a dirtbag.

    2. He came to Austin first and was chief here for 9 years. I don’t have any great insights but recall rumors that affirmative action was part of it. (Admittedly not a complete explanation as he presumably wasn’t the only Hispanic candidate who might have been interested in the job.)

      My impression is that he’s an outgoing andlikes press conferences, so he may have a personality that was good for impressing the Austin City Council and telling them what they wanted to hear.

  15. My last month paycheck was for 11000 dollars… All i did was simple online work from comfort at home for 3-4 hours/day that I got from this agency I discovered over the internet and they paid me for it 95 bucks every hour….click here===►► Read more

  16. I am making a real GOOD MONEY ($550 to $750 / hr) online from my laptop. Last month I GOT chek of nearly 85000$, this online work is simple and straightforward, don’t have to go OFFICE, Its home online job. You become independent after joining this JOB. I really thanks to my FRIEND who refer me this SITE. I hope you also got what I…go to home media tech tab for more detail reinforce your heart…….Read MoRe

  17. Hi Everyone………

    Make ­­­­­­­­­$­­­­­­­50­0­­­­­­0 every month… Start doing online computer-based work through our Fox86 website and start getting that much needed extra income every month… You’ll get trained by us, no prior experience needed… Find out more about it on following address
    >>………..>>> HERE IS DETAIL

  18. The DA must be a Democrat. A good Republican would never give police the finger like that.

  19. US Dollar Rain Earns upto $550 to $750 per day by google fantastic job oppertunity provide for our community pepoles who,s already using facebook to earn money 85000$ every month and more through facebook and google new project to create money at home withen few hours….click here==►► Read more

  20. Let us, as always, take a moment to remember asswipe police union president Joe Gamaldi, who scolded those who spread the “rhetoric” that “police officers are the enemy.”

    Cops like Goines and Bryant, and the willing accomplices who either knowingly went in guns ablaze knowing that Goines might have lied on the warrant application, or were too dumb to do anything but kill whatever Goines pointed them at, are the enemy.

  21. I admire what you have done here. click here

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.