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Deadly Houston drug raid probed by FBI; prosecutor to review 1,400 cases of key officer

"I'm very confident we're going to have criminal charges on one or more of the officers," the police chief has said of the raid that killed two people and wounded several officers.
Image: Houston police Chief Art Acevedo
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo talks to reporters during a news conference at Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston on Jan. 29, 2019.Godofredo A. Vasquez / Houston Chronicle via AP file

The Houston-area prosecutor's office said it is reviewing more than 1,400 cases spanning the career of a city narcotics officer at the center of questions swirling around a deadly drug raid last month.

The FBI also said it has opened an independent civil rights investigation into Jan. 28 raid that left a man and a woman who lived at the home dead and several police officers shot and injured. The agency's Houston office said the investigation is "into allegations that a search warrant obtained by Houston police officers was based on false, fabricated information."

Houston officials discovered in the aftermath of the raid that an affidavit for the warrant appears to have included "some material untruths or lies," the city's police chief said last week.

Police documents say the warrant for the Harding Street home was justified by claims that a confidential informant bought heroin there and saw a weapon, and investigators trying to find that informant were provided two names by narcotics Officer Gerald Goines, who was wounded in the raid.

But both informants denied working on that case or buying drugs at that address, and all the informants on a list of those who had worked for Goines denied making a buy for Goines from that residence, and ever buying drugs from the two people killed in the raid, Dennis Tuttle, 59, and Rhogena Nicholas, 58.

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced Wednesday that her office has launched a review of more than 1,400 criminal cases spanning Goines' decades-long career. Twenty-seven of those cases are still active and pending, and the attorneys in those cases have been notified, Ogg's office said.

"Our duty is to see that justice is done in every case," Ogg said in a statement. "Although the criminal investigation of Officer Goines is ongoing, we have an immediate ethical obligation to notify defendants and their lawyers in Goines' other cases to give them an opportunity to independently review any potential defenses."

Police said that when officers went to serve the warrant they were met with gunfire.

Goines has not been charged with any crime. Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo has said "I'm very confident we're going to have criminal charges on one or more of the officers," according to the Associated Press.

Goines has been with the police department for more than 30 years, according to the AP. He has been relieved of duty, Ogg's office said.

Image: Houston Crime Scene
Bullet holes can be seen on the front entrance of a home where Houston Police officers were shot while serving a warrant on Jan. 29, 2019, in Houston.Godofredo A. Vasquez / Houston Chronicle via AP file

Goines' attorney, Nicole DeBorde, told NBC News on Wednesday that they welcome the investigation. She has told NBC affiliate KPRC of Houston that she believes Goines is "innocent of any crime."

"We welcome a thorough investigation into his work and character. It's the responsible thing for the prosecution to do in light of community scrutiny and partial leaks to the media," DeBorde told NBC.

Acevedo said Wednesday that the department has changed its policies on "no-knock" warrants in the wake of the drug raid that ended in the deaths of Tuttle and Nicholas. He said requests will have to be approved by the police chief or someone designated by the chief.

"You have to maintain this ability to do this in an exigent circumstance where you truly need to use it," Acevedo said, saying that a hostage-rescue situation would be one of those cases.