Advertisement

A former Houston police officer is indicted again on murder counts in a fatal 2019 drug raid

HOUSTON (AP) — A former Houston police officer has been indicted again on murder charges for his role in a 2019 deadly drug raid that led to the death of a couple and revealed systemic corruption problems within the police department’s narcotics unit.

The reindictment by a grand jury on Wednesday of Gerald Goines on two felony murder counts came a week after a judge dismissed two similar murder charges he had previously faced.

Goines is charged in the January 2019 deaths of a married couple, Dennis Tuttle, 59, and Rhogena Nicholas, 58. Prosecutors allege Goines had lied to obtain a search warrant by making up a confidential informant and wrongly portraying the couple as dangerous heroin dealers. That led to a deadly encounter in which Tuttle, Nicholas and their dog were fatally shot and police found only small amounts of marijuana and cocaine in the house. Five officers, including Goines, were injured in the raid.

Last month, state District Judge Veronica Nelson dismissed the previous two murder indictments that Goines, 59, faced. Goines has maintained his innocence.

The ruling came after Goines’ lawyers argued the previous indictments were flawed in how they used the underlying charge of tampering with a government record to indict him for murder.

Nicole DeBorde, one of Goines’ attorneys, said she was not surprised by the new indictments.

“Without having seen the indictments, we cannot say what motions, if any, will need to be filed to address the new indictments,” DeBorde said Thursday in an email.

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said prosecutors were looking forward to presenting their case at trial, which is scheduled for June. Goines is also facing federal charges in connection with the case.

“We feel confident that Gerald Goines will be brought to justice and that the victims in this case will finally have their story told,” Ogg told reporters Wednesday.

Mike Doyle, an attorney representing Nicholas’ family, said in a statement that his clients, who have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit, “will not stop their fight” for justice.

“The Nicholas family has seen so many starts and then stops again in the criminal cases that they can only hope both the District Attorney and U.S. attorney’s offices secure some level of justice, finally,” Doyle said.

A dozen officers, including Goines, tied to the narcotics squad that carried out the raid were later indicted on various other charges following a corruption probe.

Since the raid, prosecutors have reviewed thousands of cases handled by the narcotics unit.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has overturned 22 convictions linked to Goines.

One of the other cases tied to Goines that remains under scrutiny is his 2004 drug arrest in Houston of George Floyd, whose 2020 death at the hands of a Minnesota police officer sparked a nationwide reckoning on racism in policing. A Texas board in 2022 declined a request that Floyd be granted a posthumous pardon for his drug conviction following his arrest by Goines.

___

Follow Juan A. Lozano: https://twitter.com/juanlozano70