FBI investigating whether a Houston narcotics officer fabricated a no-knock search warrant that resulted in 2 deaths
The Houston office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has announced an investigation of a veteran narcotics officer involved in a January 28 no-knock drug raid in Texas’ largest city.
According to a press release, “The FBI Houston Field Office has opened an independent civil rights investigation into allegations that a search warrant obtained by Houston police officers was based on false, fabricated information. The execution of that search warrant at 7815 Harding Street, Houston, TX, on January 28, 2019, resulted in the deaths of Rhogena Nicholas and Dennis Tuttle as well as serious injuries to several Houston police officers.”
The narcotics officer in question is 54-year-old Gerald Goines, who was shot in the neck during that raid. Goines, according to the libertarian Reason Magazine, obtained a search warrant after claiming he had sent a confidential informant to that house on January 27—the day before the raid—to purchase heroin from a man matching Tuttle’s description.
https://t.co/EW3xe7USom— FBI Houston (@FBI Houston)1550702115.0
Goines claimed that the informant returned from the house at 7815 Harding Street with “a quantity of brown power substance” that was determined to be black-tar heroin—and that, according to the informant, there were many more bags of heroin inside the house as well a 9 mm semi-automatic weapon. But when the house was searched on January 29 (the day after the raid), no heroin was found. Instead, police found small quantities of marijuana and a white power (which Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo later identified as cocaine) that suggested recreational drug use—not narcotics trafficking. Nicholas and Tuttle were killed in a shootout during the raid.
Investigators suspect that Goines lied about the events of January 27 in order to illegally obtain a search warrant. Two informants Goines worked with denied making the controlled substance buy that he alleged, and Acevedo has stated that “more than likely,” Goines “will be charged with a serious crime.”
On top of the FBI probe Goines is facing, he is being investigated by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office—which has said it is investigating over 1400 criminal cases that Goines has been involved with since joining the Houston Police Department in 1984.
In an official press release, Harris County DA Kim Ogg stated, “Although the criminal investigation of Officer Goines is ongoing, we have an immediate ethical obligation to notify defendants and their lawyers in Goines’ other cases to give them an opportunity to independently review any potential defenses.”
Another troubling case involving Goines is that of 63-year-old Otis Mallet, who was convicted of drug dealing after Goines’ testimony. Attorney Jonathan Landers alleges that Mallet was wrongly convicted thanks to the veteran narcotics officer.
In court documents, Landers alleged, “The new evidence discovered in this case shows that Officer Goines testified falsely and that no drug deal, as described by Goines, took place. Mallet was convicted based on Goines’ perjured testimony.”