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9 Houston officers charged, including 1 with murder, in probe of deadly 2019 raid

The eight other current and former police officers were indicted in what authorities described as a long-term scheme to steal overtime money.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo during a news conference at police headquarters on Nov. 20, 2019.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo during a news conference at police headquarters on Nov. 20, 2019.Jon Shapley / Houston Chronicle via AP

A Texas grand jury indicted a Houston police officer Monday on a murder charge and indicted eight other current and former officers in what authorities described as a long-term scheme to steal overtime money that was discovered after an investigation of a deadly 2019 raid.

Officer Felipe Gallegos was indicted on a charge of murder in the Jan. 28, 2019, killing of Dennis Tuttle, 59, after members of a Houston Police Department narcotics squad carried out a drug raid at his home, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg told reporters.

Tuttle's wife, Rhogena Nicholas, 58, and their dog were also killed in a shootout with authorities.

The other officers indicted Monday face first- and second-degree charges of engaging in organized criminal activity, theft by a public servant and tampering with governmental records. They are Oscar Pardo, Cedell Lovings, Nadeem Ashraf, Clemente Reyna, Thomas Wood, Frank Medina, Griff Maxwell and Hodgie Armstrong, Ogg said.

Several of the officers were previously charged in the botched raid. Another officer, Gerald Goines, was charged last year with two counts of murder in the case. He pleaded not guilty and was released on $150,000 bail. Goines' partner was also arrested at the time.

Three of the officers indicted Monday are retired, Ogg's office said. The status of one officer is unclear, and the rest are still employed by the police department, Ogg's office said.

The department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The president of the Houston Police Officers' Union declined to comment.

"The consequences of corruption are that two innocent people and their dog were shot to death in their home by police," Ogg said, adding that four officers were shot and one was paralyzed.

The raid occurred after Goines was alleged to have lied to a judge to obtain a "no knock" warrant to search the home of Tuttle and Nichols, Ogg said. An investigation touched off by the firefight revealed that officers were involved in the scheme to steal overtime funds, she said.

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Ogg did not provide additional details about the scheme, saying more information would be released in court proceedings. All but one of the current and former officers was part of Narcotics Squad 15, she said.

An attorney for Gallegos, Rusty Hardin, declined to comment. An attorney for Reyna, Lisa Andrews, called the charge of engaging in organizing crime a "ludicrous perversion of the law" and accused Ogg of trying to score political points by indicting police officers.

"Sgt. Reyna, after devoting 30 years of unblemished service to the Houston Police Department, looks forward to his day in court, where Ogg's corrupt political prosecution will be exposed," she said.

An attorney for Wood, Edward McClees, called the charges "wholly unfounded" and said a jury will acquit him. A lawyer for Armstrong did not immediately respond to requests for comment and efforts to reach the other officers were unsuccessful.