HOUSTON (CN) – A former Houston policeman who prosecutors say made false statements in a warrant, leading to a drug raid in which a married couple were shot to death by police was charged with two counts of murder Friday.
A Houston police narcotics squad with a no-knock warrant burst into a southeast Houston home on Jan. 28, 2019, looking for bricks of heroin.
They exchanged gunfire with Dennis Tuttle, a 59-year-old Navy veteran. When the shooting stopped, Tuttle and his wife Rhogena Nicholas, 58, were dead with multiple gunshot wounds and four officers had also been shot.
The police also fatally shot the couple’s dog. They did not find any heroin, just small amounts of cocaine and marijuana.
An HPD internal investigation turned up inconsistencies in the story of Officer Gerald Goines, who was shot in the neck at the home.
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said Friday at a news conference Goines had made false statements in an affidavit to get a magistrate to sign the warrant.
According to Ogg, Goines lied to the magistrate that he had just finished a two-weeks investigation into drug dealing at the home, that a confidential informant had bought heroin from an unknown 55-year-old man there the previous day, and the man carried a 9mm handgun, so the squad needed a no-knock warrant because announcing themselves would be dangerous.
“Goines later admitted in an interview after the HPD investigation, there was no CI that purchased drugs there. He claimed instead that he personally made the drug buy,” Ogg said.
Goines and his narcotics squad partner, former HPD Officer Steven Bryant, both retired in March after the Harris County DA’s Office launched an investigation into the raid and said it was reviewing more than 1,000 cases Goines and Bryant had worked on.
The FBI is also investigating the raid.
Prosecutors also charged Bryant with one count of second-degree tampering with a government document Friday, Ogg said at the news conference.
She said two days after the raid Bryant wrote a supplement to an offense report in which he lied that he had “recovered a plastic bag that contained a white napkin and two small packets of a brown powdery substance that he knew based on his skill and expertise contained heroin” at the home.
Bryant also falsely claimed he recognized the drugs as the same drugs Goines’ confidential informant bought the day before the raid, Ogg said.
Ogg said she spoke to Goines’ and Bryant’s attorneys Friday and they agreed to turn them into jail to be booked on the charges by 3 p.m. Friday.
She said a Harris County grand jury will soon begin reviewing all the evidence to decide if further charges are warranted against Goines or Bryant, or any other officers.