Criminal Justice

Former Houston Police Officer Pleads Guilty To Falsifying Records In Harding Street Raid Case

Steven Bryant is the first officer to be convicted in the wake of the raid.

Lucio Vasquez/Houston Public Media
On the one year anniversary of the botched drug raid that lead to the deaths of Dennis and Rhogena Tuttle, a candle light vigil is held on the doorstep of their home. Taken on January 28, 2020.

A former Houston Police officer pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday morning in a civil rights case tied to the deadly botched 2019 Harding Street raid.

Steven Bryant, 47, was arrested by FBI agents in late 2019 and charged with obstructing justice by falsifying records related to a no-knock warrant that led to the deaths of Dennis Tuttle, 59, and Rhogena Nicholas, 58.

Bryant is now the first officer to be convicted in the raid’s wake.

In a statement to Houston Public Media, Bryant’s lawyer, Andy Drumheller, wrote that the former officer’s guilty plea reflected “his decision to take responsibility for his conduct.”

“He very much regrets what happened,” Drumheller wrote.

Prosecutors say both Bryant and former HPD officer Gerald Goines, 56, who led the narcotics squad that executed the raid, concocted a story about a confidential informant who purchased heroin from the couple’s home in order to obtain the warrant.

In the ensuing raid, both Tuttle and Nicholas were shot and killed, along with their dog. Goines and four other officers were also wounded, according to court documents.

While Goines was hospitalized, an investigation later revealed that he invented the story, police said.

Goines was arrested alongside Bryant, and was hit with a slew of charges, including felony murder and violating the victims’ Fourth Amendment rights. He has pleaded not guilty.

Both Goines and Bryant are being charged in both federal court and Harris County District Court.

In the more than two years since the raid, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office has reviewed more than 14,000 thousand cases connected with Goines’ squad, dating back to at least 2008. DA Kim Ogg has identified more than 160 of those cases to possibly overturn, and two men have been exonerated so far.

Ogg’s office — along with Harris County leaders — have also publicly supported a petition to have George Floyd posthumously pardoned for a 2004 Houston drug arrest based on Goines’ involvement. That request was submitted to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles by a Harris County public defender in April.

According to court documents, Goines arrested Floyd in February of that year for selling $10 worth of crack cocaine. Floyd was sentenced to 10 months in state jail for the crime, after pleading guilty.

A Harris County grand jury previously indicted 10 other HPD officers in connection to the raid, charging them with engaging in organized criminal activity and other first-degree felonies that could result in life sentences.

Along with Goines, officer Felipe Gallegos was indicted for murder.

The families of the couple have also filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city of Houston, former Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, and the individual officers. The city is spending more than $1 million to fight the suit.

Patricia Ann Garcia, a neighbor to the Tuttles who was also arrested in 2019 after allegedly lying to 911 operators, pleaded guilty in March. Prosecutors say she falsely claimed that the Tuttles were drug dealers who had machine guns inside the home.

Bryant will remain free on bond prior to his sentencing date, which is scheduled for the morning of Aug. 24.

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