In my February 12 BJT article Acevedo Should Be Fired For His Reckless Comments On The Tragic Houston Drug Raid I asked, “Was the search warrant in the Houston raid based on a careless worded or worse, fabricated affidavit?” That question has now been answered and unfortunately the answer is the affidavit was fabricated.
It appears that narcotics officer Gerald Goines, who is still hospitalized, lied about a confidential informant having bought heroin at 7815 Harding Street and that officer Steven Bryant, who has been relieved of duty, likely colluded in the fabrication of the affidavit.
Officers from HPD’s special investigation unit obtained the identity of all informants who ever worked for Goines and each of them denied ever buying any drugs at 7815 Harding Street or from Dennis Tuttle and his wife Rhogena Nicholas, the couple that was killed in a shootout with Goines’ team.
Now Houston police chief Art Acevedo acknowledges that a crime was committed in obtaining the search warrant and says, “We know for a fact that, more than likely, the investigating officer will be charged with a serious crime at some point.” He asked that HPD not be painted with a ‘broad brush’ and said, “The community will absolutely know the good, the bad and the ugly.”
Ugly this is. It’s beyond bad! A lowdown lying officer caused the deaths of two innocent homeowners and almost cost the lives of himself and his fellow officers.
Goines and Bryant, if he colluded in fabricating the affidavit, must be punished to the full extent of the law. Two counts of murder for Goins and probably two counts of murder for Bryant appear to be appropriate. If any additional officers participated in the fabrication, the same for them.
HPD has been given a black eye that will linger for some time to come. Acevedo finally got it right when he asked that HPD not be painted with a broad brush. The actions of Goins and Bryant should not reflect on the dedicated officers of the Houston Police Department who risk their lives every day while protecting the citizens of this great city.
As for Acevedo, now that he knows the ugly truth, he’s saying all the right things. But he’s a day late and a dollar short. Acevedo should still be fired for the reckless misstatements he made during several press briefings on this tragic case. The city of Houston and its cops deserve better than a leader who discredits HPD by shooting his mouth off without knowing the facts.
Fat Albert says
HPOU President Joe Gramaldi should be called to task for his remarks immediately after the incident. They were not helpful, and in light of the current revelations, were wildly off base.
Turner promised 500 more police officers during the election but HPD is down 50-75 officers since Turner took over. If Turner had keep promise, maybe HPD could have gotten rid of officers like Goins and Bryant. Chronicle is going to reveal more. I have no confidence in HPD under Turner and Acevedo. Our police officers and citizens deserve better leadership
Howie: If a prosecutor eats his Wheaties and the cards fall right, he just might be able to get a capital murder conviction on Goines, Bryant and any other participants who knew the affidavit was falsified for a double murder. No one could argue that the two victims weren’t knowingly or intentionally killed. Or, they might be able to make it a burglary-murder, again a capital murder.
In either case, the sentence would be life without parole or death. com
Felony murder, a death during the commission of a crime — perjury — might be harder because the perjury was complete before the police kicked the doors. Felony murder has to be in in the course of or in furtherance of the underlying felony or in the immediate flight therefrom. Since the perjury was complete, I would argue they can’t make a felony murder charge.
We don’t know how many, if any, of the officers on the raid didn’t know about the perjury on the affidavit but any who truly didn’t know will forever have their careers stained by Goines’s lying.
Howie Katz says
Tom, having spent half my law enforcement career in narcotics enforcement, this really pisses me off. I’ve gone on raids in Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Orange counties in California and none of the affidavits for those raids were made with any lies.
Goines has made all search warrant affidavits suspect by what he has done. And I’m not talking just about HPD.
Fat Albert says
I would contend that all acts subsequent to the perjury, which were based on the perjury, were in fact illegal. I.E., when the broke down the door and barged into the house, they were guilty of breaking and entering. Thus they are guilty of Felony murder.
I’m betting, however, that the DA’s office is working hard to see how little then can get away with charging those responsible.
Fat Albert: The Texas Penal Code defines felony murder as a murder in furtherance of a felony or in the immediate flight therefrom. Perjury is not a continuing offense. Once the lie is told, the perjury is over.
Now, a good argument can be made that the officers on the raid who knew the affidavit was based on perjury could be guilty of burglary of a habitation with intent to commit assault. After all, they knew they really didn’t have authority to enter the house.
But, there also were two deaths and double murder is a capital offense.
Frankly, I think it might be easier to make a capital murder case than a felony murder case. And, life without parole or death might get the attention of other officers doing the same thing.
Off topic for this response, does ANYONE think this is the first time Goines lied on a search warrant affidavit? And does ANYONE think he’s the only HPD narcotics officers doing the same thing?
Joseph C Mannina says
Fat Albert says
What I’m really curious about is the motive. Why? Why would Goines commit such a monstrous fabrication? He had to know that it was going to come out eventually. Am I missing something?
If both of the homeowners are dead and the rest of this was swept under the carpet by Goines after the fact then maybe nothing happens. The Union and the Department stood for him before they knew anything which makes anything they come out with for anything that happens from now on suspect. I moved out of Houston tired of HPD and some of the things that they were pulling. My truck was hit by a guy in a road rage incident and when I made a complaint along with giving them witnesses the Sgt. instead of doing anything with it called up the other driver and gave him all of my information. So this isn’t the first but it may be the worst that the arrogance that HPD works under finally caught up with them. Parking tickets in a neighborhood that didn’t vote for the mayor based on nothing and given out on back streets that were cul-de-sacs with no traffic. Another incident where they never showed up when someone was trying to break in a house which resulted in two elderly home owners beaten severely in another break in and then the perp trying to shoot a police dog with a side arm stolen from that robbery only to have HPD go on a gun control rap. Sorry this department has been headed this way for a long long time.
Jeff Larson says
But you have to think that under normal circumstances, the couple is arrested and goes to jail. If not, this is premeditated murder, and what’s the motive to murder this couple?
And that raises the question…to get a conviction, you need drugs. Was there really any black tar heroin intered into evidence that was taken from the confidential informant? And if not, that raises the question of whether the cocaine they found was planted. Journalists HAVE contacted their drug dealer, who claims they were customers, not suppliers, and the only thing they purchased from him was small amounts of marijuana to alleviate her cancer symptoms. He expressed surprise that they would be found with cocaine, because he never sold them any.
Howie Katz says
Fat, I don’t know what his motive was, but members of a narcotics unit are under pressure to produce or else they’re out of there and back on patrol. There are so many drug dealers that narcs can make plenty of good cases without fabricating any affidavits.
Franklin J. says
Howie, according to media accounts, Goines had been involved in drug raids for most of his 35 year career and as such, I don’t think he had the same pressure to produce as some rookie on a rotational assignment. Given Harris County is full of drug dealers, manufacturers, and big time players in the field, something is still missing from this picture on motive. I don’t buy into the suggestion that the news media have contacted the couple’s drug dealer given they may well have had several such dealers, nor do I think most of the raiding team were in on filling out the affidavit, but HPD allowing a single officer to launch a raid like this shows a tremendous lack of common sense, the kind that should lead to the entire chain of command upwards to be demoted, fired, or forced into retirement as the officer/s in question are tried for their alleged crimes.
I predict officer Goines will swallow his gun if he is not just being made the scapegoat but I can’t shake the feeling that something is missing here, something higher up than the officer in question. In any case, maybe judges should be a little more critical of such affidavits, maybe all confidential informants should have their statements recorded-last I heard, the CI in question “couldn’t be found” so while Goines’ other CI’s were questioned, that doesn’t mean a thing-and maybe new procedures should be enacted to prevent anyone from staging such a raid without serious vetting by those of higher rank. But what incentive would the specific CI have to come forward into this mess, even if it were all true?
Howie Katz says
Franklin, you make some good points. Let me assure you though that it makes no difference if you’ve been in a drug unit only six months or six years, the pressure to make cases applies regardless of how long you’ve been there.
It has been my experience that officers do not simply sit down and compose an affidavit for a search warrant. In my years of experience, one or possibly two officers will get together with a prosecutor who will help in the wording of the affidavit. The prosecutor would always take care to make sure everything was kosher. Of course that does not necessarily prevent a cop from lying. The prosecutor in this case, if there was one, should also be investigated about his part in composing the affidavit to see if he was careless in determining the truthfulness of Goines. And then there’s the judge. Did he carefully study the affidavit and question Goines and the prosecutor or did he merely rubberstamp the search warrant?
As for the CI in this case not being found, he may not even exist.
Franklin J. says
That was sort of my point, exactly how did the couple get picked out of the million or more residences in the area? Something put them on the officer’s radar and just what could the judge have done differently unless there was an obvious problem with the affidavit?
Howie Katz says
That’s the ringer in this case. With dope dealers all over Houston, why did the house on Harding Street get picked out for a drug raid?
Byron Schirmbeck says
Committing crimes that result in murder you charge all of them. Acevedo only came clean when the docs were leaked and he was pissed about that. Turner, Acevedo and all need to go. @Fat Albert, my best guess, and it’s just that is they were planning on planting that heroin in the squad car on those folks and didn’t plan on them shooting at them. Why? who knows, maybe they were causing trouble for one of his CIs, maybe they owned him money, maybe they were dealing with him. Don’t know if it will ever come out but it sure smells like a setup for something.
Barry Klein says
I don’t think the dead couple did any of the shooting. I heard from someone once in law enforcement that the cops broke in both front and back doors and shot each other.
Howie Katz says
Barry, that was true years ago, but because on occasion cops did shoot each other, tactics were changed to where only one door is used to gain entry while other officers are stationed around the house to catch anyone trying to escape out the other door or out of the windows. Then the tactics changed again in those police departments that had SWAT teams. SWAT is used to gain entry and secure the premises before the narcs go in to search for drugs and to arrest the occupants if they find any contraband or if the search warrant calls for their arrest.
We support the rule of law, and that no one is above the law, especially DemonKKKrats like the Clintons, or the rogues in the Department of Injustice. We live in an Orwellian Police State.
This event, of murdering two citizens in their home based on a bogus “No Knock” warrant, is a perfect example of why we need to claw back our Second Amendment rights from the “gun-grabbers” like HPD chief Acevedo. He wants to disarm us so that we are rendered as helpless as the Venezuelans. I have always contended that the citizens should always maintain “PARITY” with the government forces in order to maintain order. I learned many decades ago, while living in Alaska where virtually every adult was armed, that an armed society is also a safer society.
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mary berger says
I knew from about 5 p.m. that day that something was very wrong. A couple living in the same house for 20 years and the neighbors said they were not drug dealers and 2 life flite choppers just sitting there w/no one being loaded ???????????? What drug dealer couple lives in the same house 20 years ????? They may have been addicts but dealers that needed to be killed. What about the timing schools getting out people getting off work and you bust into a former marines house what do you think is going to happen ???? Many heads need to roll. !!!!!!!!!!!!
I went and read all of the story and from what I got this is an officer that again and again was allowed to make up stuff as he went along. Which means all of his prior supervisors should be under microscopes, all of the previous busts are going to have to be looked at, and there is one guy who is in his 60s who has been claiming that he is innocent and with this it probably looks like not only is he going to get out of prison but the State and the City is going to owe him a lot of money. Arrogance and no one actually looking to protect the citizens who they were sworn to serve and protect from officers if what half is true from the Chronicle article should never still have had a badge. The problem is there are good decent officers on the HPD force but all of them are now stained, like I said in my previous post moved out of Houston because of everything I personally witnessed and you couldn’t tell HPD anything.
Franklin J. says
TOT, I’ve kept up with the coverage from the Chronicle and found it just as random as ever, the two reporters handling the majority of the related articles are not their best by a long shot. One is a convicted felon and the other rarely gets a story accurately so I have found other sources to rely on such as the Texas Tribune. But the Chronicle’s story on officer Goines did not show an extensive history of making things up, the disputed case regarding innocence as yet unresolved after years of lingering in the courts.
You can focus on the individual officer as you like but given HPD’s history, why do some automatically give any benefit of the doubt to their internal investigators over the rest of them? If they are cut from the same cloth, wouldn’t that be foolish? You’ve been unsatisfied with them as a group because of a few encounters and my experiences have been different based on markedly more, but I agree with you that every one of the officer’s narcotics cases should be examined with a fine tooth comb, especially if he was given free reign as it looks this time.
my gut feeling however is that whatever crime he gets charged with will not include murder/manslaughter/attempted murder. at BEST I expect it to be official oppression, perjury, or something along those lines. because he will be treated preferentially because of his 30 years as a cop. they know sending him to prison for sny length of time will be a death sentence. the other inmates will shove a shank in his ear at first opportunity. that is not to say that isnt precisely what he deserves, but i doubt that will be the outcome.
Derek Russ says
This guy has been getting away with all types of infraction, lying, assult on citizens. ct, it all come down to why he’ll get the least punishment with everything down played and covered up because of the all mighty nationwide police propaganda unit and spokeperson called the POLICE UNION a very powerful behind the scene of most(all) police mis-conduct big or small. The president and all the other political conservatives dislike any kind of unions go as far as calling for them being disbanded but never do they include the POLICE UNION. I suggest we fing out more about this very powerful protection organization. They are the vanguards of good and bad within the police departments nationwide.