6 More Houston Police Officers Charged After Fatal 2019 Raid

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6 More Houston Police Officers Charged After Fatal 2019 Raid


Six more Houston police officers were indicted on Monday — including one on a murder charge — in connection with a botched raid in 2019 that claimed the lives of a local couple, prosecutors said.

Five of those officers were charged with first- and second-degree felonies stemming from what prosecutors said was a scheme by members of a Houston Police Department narcotics squad to pad their overtime pay.

The indictments, announced by the Harris County district attorney, Kim Ogg, at a news conference, brought to 12 the total number of current and former officers charged as part of a sweeping investigation into police misconduct and corruption that stemmed from the raid. Two are charged with murder.

Monday’s indictments came nearly two years after narcotics squad members burst into the home of Rhogena Nicholas, 58, and Dennis Tuttle, 59, who were killed in the Jan. 28, 2019, shootout. Four officers were injured by gunfire in the raid, including one who was paralyzed, the authorities said.

“The consequences of corruption are that two innocent people and their dog were shot to death in their home by police,” Ms. Ogg said in a statement. “Four officers were shot, one paralyzed, and now all of them will face jurors who will determine their fate.”

Officer Felipe Gallegos, who Ms. Ogg said shot Mr. Tuttle in what she characterized as an intentional homicide, on Monday became the second narcotics squad member to face a murder charge for his role in the raid.

Prosecutors contend the raid should never have been authorized but was approved when another former officer, Gerald Goins, who was charged with murder in August 2019, provided false information to a municipal judge who signed a warrant.

Another officer, Steven Bryant, was charged at that time with tampering with a governmental record. Prosecutors say that Mr. Bryant lied on a police report that he had recovered a plastic bag with a white napkin and two small packets containing black tar heroin at the scene of the raid, and that they were the same drugs purchased by a confidential informant who did not exist.

If convicted, Officer Gallegos could face up to life in prison, according to Ms. Ogg, who declined to elaborate on the evidence against Officer Gallegos.

Rusty Hardin, a lawyer for Officer Gallegos, declined to comment on the case Monday.

Ms. Ogg said the two-year investigation by her office exposed a scheme by members of the narcotics squad to pad their overtime pay.

Three of the officers — Oscar Pardo, Cedell Lovings and Nadeem Ashraf — were charged with first-degree felonies of engaging in organized criminal activity related to theft of a public servant and tampering with a governmental record. If convicted, they could face up to life in prison.

Daniel J. Werlinger, a lawyer for Officer Ashraf, said in an interview on Monday night that his client would be vindicated.

“When it’s all said and done, we believe that evidence will show that my client and the other officers did not commit any criminal offense,” Mr. Werlinger said.

A lawyer for Officer Pardo said he had just taken the case and was not immediately prepared to comment.

A lawyer for Officer Lovings, who Ms. Ogg said was paralyzed after being shot in the raid, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday night.

Two other officers — Frank Medina and Griff Maxwell — were charged with second-degree felonies of engaging in organized criminal activity related to theft of a public servant and tampering with a governmental record. They could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

A lawyer for Officer Maxwell disputed the charges against his client in a statement on Monday night.

“Griff is an innocent man and a dedicated public servant,” the lawyer, Nathan Hennigan, said. “Shame on Ogg for this cynical political prosecution.”

A lawyer for Officer Medina did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday night.

In a statement on Monday, Chief Art Acevedo of the Houston police expressed his frustration over the widening scope of the case, including the murder charge against Officer Gallegos.

“I have said many times that the other officers involved in the incident, including the officer indicted today, had no involvement in obtaining the warrant and responded appropriately to the deadly threat posed to them during its service,” Chief Acevedo said.

The chief also noted that a Houston Police Department investigation had exposed the misconduct of Mr. Goins and Mr. Bryant.

Douglas Griffith, president of the Houston Police Officers’ Union, said he would comment on the indictments on Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a statement on Monday that “the legal process will run its course.”

Boyd Smith, a lawyer for Mr. Tuttle’s family, said in an interview on Monday that the family had not received all of the details about the raid and planned to file a lawsuit in the case this week.

“This narcotics unit was allowed to develop into this completely untethered dangerous subculture with no accountability whatsoever,” Mr. Smith said.

Michael P. Doyle, a lawyer for Ms. Nicholas’s family, accused the city in a statement on Monday of covering up the facts in the case and said the indictments raised questions.

“How high does the corruption of H.P.D. Narcotics Squad 15 go and why has the City and H.P.D. fought so hard, still, to conceal the basic facts about what happened before, during and after the murderous raid?” Mr. Doyle said.





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