police officers drug raid indicted charged

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Following an investigation into a deadly 2019 drug raid, nine police officers from the Houston Police Department narcotics squad were discovered to have been stealing overtime money from the department and have since been charged.

The drug raid occurred on January 28, 2019 and involved the wrongful death of a Houston couple in their home as well as the shootings of five police officers. The house was raided under the suspicion that the couple was dealing black-tar heroin, but it was later revealed that former narcotics officer Gerald Goines had fabricated information about the couple in order to obtain search warrants on the home. As a result, 59-year-old Dennis Tuttle and 58-year-old Rhogena Nicholas were killed alongside their dog in what quickly became a deadly shootout.

According to Harris County prosecutors, Goines was charged last year for two counts of murder. His partner, Steven Bryant, was charged with tampering with government records. On Monday, officer Felipe Gallegos was also charged with murder for his own role in Tuttle’s death.

In addition to Gallegos, eight other officers were charged with engaging in organized criminal activity, theft by a public servant, and tampering with governmental records. It is believed that Houston Police Department’s Narcotics Squad 15 had used the false search warrant to aid in their greater scheme to steal overtime funds from the police department, but authorities are not providing any further details at this time.

Three of the indicted officers— Oscar Pardo, Cedell Lovings and Nadeem Ashraf— are currently facing felony charges of engaging in organized criminal activity and may receive life sentences if convicted. Two other officers— Frank Medina and Griff Maxwell— face second-degree felonies of these same charges and could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Attorneys for family members of Tuttle and Nicholas have since conducted their own investigation into the raid and are presently attempting to obtain documents and depositions of agency officials from the city and police department.

“The latest indictments confirm some of the findings from the families’ independent investigation, and yet again raises two questions: how high does the corruption of (the narcotics squad) go and why has the city and (Houston police) fought so hard, still, to conceal the basic facts about what happened before, during and after the murderous raid?” Michael Doyle, one of the Nicholas family attorneys, said in a statement.

Although the investigation into the alleged money scheme is ongoing, an audit of the narcotics unit from July 2020 did find that the officers rarely carried out thorough investigations and often overpaid informants for the seizure of minuscule amounts of drugs.

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