In-Depth

Timeline: A Botched Houston Police Raid And Its Consequences

Here’s an overview of the developments in the story that started with two alleged drug dealers dead and five officers injured.

The Pecan Park house where four police officers were shot on January 28, 2019 while serving a search warrant.

For the past four weeks, we’ve been following developments in what started with news of a drug raid gone terribly wrong in southeast Houston.

The two homeowners were killed and five Houston police officers were wounded during a shootout, while serving a search warrant.

Now, the FBI is investigating what happened, the lead officer in the raid is facing possible criminal charges and the Houston Police Department has announced sweeping changes.

Below is a timeline of events and what we know so far:

January 28:

  • Shortly before 5 p.m., undercover officers with the Houston Police Department’s narcotics division execute a no-knock search warrant at 7815 Harding St. in the Pecan Park neighborhood in southeast Houston.
  • According to HPD Chief Art Acevedo, the first officer who made entry was attacked by a pitbull and shot and killed the dog.
  • Acevedo says Dennis Tuttle, the homeowner, shot at that first officer with a .357 Magnum revolver and hit him in the shoulder. When the officer fell onto a couch in the living room, Tuttle’s wife, Rhogena Nicholas, “started making a move for” the officer’s shotgun and was consequently shot and killed by another officer.
  • Tuttle was killed in the continuing shootout. Four officers were shot – two of them in the face, one in the neck and one in the shoulder – and one suffered a serious knee injury that required surgery.
  • At a press conference about the raid with Chief Acevedo and Mayor Sylvester Turner, Houston Police Officers Union President Joe Gamaldi becomes angry about the officers shot and appears to threaten people critical of police:

    “We are sick and tired of having targets on our back,” he says. “We are sick and tired of having dirtbags trying to take our lives when all we’re trying to do is protect this community and protect our families. Enough is enough… If you’re the ones that are out there spreading the rhetoric that police officers are the enemy, just know we’ve all got your number now, we’re going to be keeping track of all of y’all, and we’re going to make sure that we hold you accountable every time you stir the pot on our police officers.”

Mayor Sylvester Turner (center) discusses the investigation of a deadly drug raid conducted in Houston on January 28, 2019.

January 29:

  • Neighbors and family members of the killed couple paint a picture of them that doesn’t fit those of dangerous drug dealers.

    “I don’t buy it at all,” Tuttle’s sister, Elizabeth Ferrari, told the Houston Chronicle. “Not one hot minute.”

    “When you’re scared, when someone knocks down your door, of course, you’re going to react,” one neighbor told ABC13.

  • At a press conference at Memorial Hermann Hospital, Chief Acevedo reveals officers found marijuana and a white powder – which later turned out to be cocaine – at the house. No other drugs were found.

January 30:

  • Chief Acevedo releases the search warrant for the no-knock raid on Twitter. The officer who signed the affidavit wrote that a confidential informant purchased heroin from the house at 7815 Harding St. and told police that he saw more in there as well as a semi-automatic handgun.
  • The warrant gives officers permission to enter the house without first announcing themselves based on probable cause that knocking “would be dangerous, futile, or would inhibit the effective investigation of the offense.”

January 31:

  • Acevedo says HPD had received a call from someone who said her daughter was doing drugs in the house and that there were drugs and heroin, which started an investigation into 7815 Harding St.
  • Addressing HPOU President Gamaldi’s comments, Acevedo says they were “over the top” and not helpful in the police department’s relationship with the community.
  • He says HPD’s internal affairs division and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office are investigating the operation.

February 7:

  • The Houston Police Officers Union confirms that one officer connected to the raid is relieved of duty pending the investigation.

February 9:

  • The search warrant return shows property seized from the raid includes 18 grams of marijuana, 1.5 grams of cocaine, two shotguns and two rifles. Again, no heroin and no handgun.

February 15:

  • Documents show the lead officer in the raid, Gerald Goines, is accused of lying on the affidavit to obtain a search warrant. Goines’ informants that internal affairs investigators spoke with deny having ever been to the house on Harding Street, let alone having made a drug buy there.
  • Acevedo says he expects criminal charges.

February 18:

  • At a town hall meeting with Chief Acevedo and Harris County DA Kim Ogg, frustrated community members and activists request the end of no-knock search warrants and criminal charges for all officers involved in the fatal raid.

February 20:

  • At a press conference, Acevedo announces the FBI has opened a civil rights investigation into allegations that the search warrant was based on fabricated information.
  • A new HPD policy goes into effect, requiring no-knock search warrant requests to be approved by the chief first.
  • Acevedo says the department will move quickly to equip SWAT officers and those serving search warrants with body cameras.
  • The Harris County District Attorney’s Office announces it is reviewing all 1,400 cases – including 27 active ones – that Goines worked on during his 34 years at HPD.
  • The same day a drug case against Courtney Jacobs is dismissed

February 21:

  • Officer Goines, who was shot in the face during the raid, is released from the hospital. He and Officer Steven Bryant are suspended with pay, pending the investigation. Bryant had first claimed to have witnessed the drug buy, but later told investigators that he had retrieved the two bags of heroin from Goines’ car.

February 25:

  • A second case involving Gerald Goines is dismissed, a crack cocaine possession case against Treveon Cornett.

March 4:

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Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is currently the News 88.7 business reporter. Florian’s stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters and the Houston Press Club. Florian is a native of Germany. His studies...

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