HOUSTON (AP) — A grand jury has indicted six former Houston police officers whose work with a narcotics unit has been under scrutiny since a 2019 drug raid in which a couple was killed, prosecutors announced Friday.
Prosecutors allege that the former officers falsified documentation about drug payments to confidential informants, routinely used false information to get search warrants, and lied in police reports.
The grand jury on Thursday brought indictments on a total of 17 felony charges against the officers. The indicted former officers are Gerald Goines; Steven Bryant; Sgt. Clemente Reyna; Sgt. Thomas Wood; Lt. Robert Gonzales; and Hodgie Armstrong. The charges, which include tampering with a government record and aggregate theft by a public servant, were first filed earlier this month by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, which then brought the case before a grand jury.
“These indictments reinforce our decision to prosecute the graft, greed and corruption in this troubled Houston Police division,” said Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg.
Goines and Bryant previously were charged in state and federal court in the case, including two counts of felony murder filed in state court against Goines for the January 2019 deaths of Dennis Tuttle, 59, and his 58-year-old wife, Rhogena Nicholas.
Prosecutors accused Goines of lying to obtain the warrant to search the couple’s home. Goines claimed a confidential informant had bought heroin at the home. But the informant told investigators no such drug buy ever took place, authorities said. Police found small amounts of marijuana and cocaine in the house, but no heroin.
When officers entered the home using a “no-knock” warrant that didn’t require them to announce themselves before entering, they were met with gunfire. Friends of Tuttle and Nicholas say they were not criminals and have suggested that the couple might have thought they were being attacked by intruders.
Five officers, including Goines, were injured in the raid.
An attorney for Goines and the Houston Police Officers’ Union have called the charges against the former officers a political ploy by Ogg and said the ex-officers look forward to their day in court.
Since the raid, prosecutors have been reviewing thousands of cases handled by the narcotics unit.
More than 160 drug convictions tied to Goines have been dismissed by prosecutors, with more likely to follow.
An audit of the narcotics unit found that officers often weren’t thorough in their investigations and overpaid informants for the seizure of minuscule amounts of drugs.