A lead investigator lied in an affidavit justifying a drug raid on a Houston home in which two residents were killed and four undercover officers were shot and wounded during a gun battle, the city’s police chief said Friday.
In the search warrant that was used to justify entering the home, officers with the Houston Police Department’s narcotics unit had alleged that a confidential informant had bought heroin at the house the day before the Jan. 28 raid. The informant had also allegedly seen a handgun in the home.
But according to an affidavit filed as part of the ongoing investigation into the raid and made public Friday, the informant told investigators he or she had not bought any drugs at the home and had not been involved in any work leading up to the raid.
The heroin allegedly bought at the home had been obtained elsewhere, according to the affidavit.
The informant had allegedly been working with the lead investigator in the case, who was identified in the affidavit as Officer Gerald Goines. He prepared the search warrant and has been with the police department for more than 30 years, according to investigators.
Goines was one of the four officers who were shot in the gunfight that killed 59-year-old Dennis Tuttle and 58-year-old Rhogena Nicholas, who both lived in the home. A fifth officer injured his knee during the shooting.
Investigators also spoke with several other informants who had previously worked with Goines and all said they had not bought drugs at the home, according to the affidavit.
After the raid, police said they found several firearms at the home, along with marijuana and cocaine but no heroin.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said the ongoing investigation into the drug raid appears to have uncovered “some untruths or lies” in the search warrant. He called this “unacceptable.”
“When we prepare a document to go into somebody’s home … it has to be truthful, it has to be honest, it has to be absolutely factual,” Acevedo said. “So, we know already there’s a crime that’s been committed. A high probability there will be a criminal charge.”
Acevedo said his department’s investigation has yet to determine what charges Goines could face.
Goines, who remains hospitalized, could not immediately be reached for comment Friday. The president of the Houston Police Officers’ Union did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
In the hours after the raid, Acevedo had praised Goines as being “tough as nails.”
Acevedo said Goines has been suspended. Another officer involved in the drug raid had previously been suspended.
Authorities still believe Tuttle and Nicholas were involved in criminal activity, but Acevedo said the case now is undermined.
Local community activists have been critical of the raid and neighbors have portrayed Tuttle and Nicholas as a disabled couple who seemed law abiding. The Greater Houston Coalition for Justice was set to hold a town hall meeting about the raid on Monday.
Acevedo said authorities will conduct an extensive internal review of Goines’ prior cases as well as other cases by the agency’s narcotics division.
“We have 5,200 officers and I would ask that nobody paint our department with a broad brush. …This is not indicative of the greater work that goes on here,” Acevedo said.
During a news conference, Acevedo repeatedly said the problems related to the search warrant were discovered through the ongoing investigation and his agency is not trying to hide anything.
“We’re going to get to the truth. We will report back the good, the bad and the ugly,” he said.