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Former Houston officers arrested on federal charges connected to botched drug raid that killed 2

November 21, 2019 - 6:41 pm

iStock(HOUSTON) - Two former Houston police officers involved in a botched drug raid that killed a married couple earlier this year have been arrested on federal charges, according to authorities.

The neighbor who called 911 has been arrested as well, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo announced during a news conference Wednesday.

On Jan. 28, 58-year-old Rhogena Nicholas, her husband, 59-year-old Dennis Tuttle, and a pit bull in the home were shot and killed on Harding Street in southeast Houston when police carried out a search warrant on the home. Four police officers were also shot and wounded in the raid.

A subsequent investigation later revealed that one of the narcotics officers who was shot, 54-year-old Gerald Goines, allegedly lied to obtain a no-knock warrant for the raid. The investigation also claimed that the confidential informant who Goines said conducted two drug purchases of black tar heroin at the home never went to the house, according to an affidavit filed in Harris County District Court in February.

Goines was federally charged with deprivation of rights under color of law, destruction, alteration or falsification of records in federal investigations and tampering with a witness, victim or informant.

He was previously charged with two counts of murder in the couple's deaths by the Harris County District Attorney's Office.

In the wake of the botched raid, the police department ended the practice of no-knock warrants and opened up 1,400 criminal cases associated with Goines to review.

Another former Houston police officer, Steven Bryant, was also federally charged with destruction, alteration or falsification of records. He was previously charged in Harris County with tampering with a government record under state law.

Prosecutors claim Bryant submitted a document containing false information that drugs were found in the home two days after the raid happened, ABC Houston station KTRK-TV reported, citing court documents. Prosecutors allege that Bryant retrieved heroin from Goines' car on Jan. 30 and wrote that the drugs were evidence found during the raid, according to the station.

Bryant allegedly later admitted the "mistake" to investigators and stated that he never participated in the narcotics investigation at the home, KTRK-TV reported, per the court documents.

The woman who lived across the street from the couple, 53-year-old Patricia Garcia, has also been arrested and federally charged with providing false information for allegedly making several fake 911 calls, Acevedo said. Police had previously stated that the raid stemmed from numerous complaints from neighbors.

All three were arrested Wednesday by the FBI and were being held at the FBI's Houston field office, Acevedo said.

Attorneys for Goines, Bryant and Garcia did not immediately return ABC News' request for comment.

Goines' attorney, Nicole DeBorde, told KTRK-TV she believes he was overcharged.

"I firmly believe that Mr. Goines is innocent of any crime and we look forward to defending this case vigorously in court," DeBorde told the station.

Bryant's attorney, Andy Drumheller, told KTRK-TV his client is facing a "tough situation," but said Bryant "was not involved in drafting the search warrant, never entered the home and never fired a weapon."

Friends of the victims told KTRK-TV they were not the hardcore heroin dealers they were described to be in the falsified search warrants.

The attorney representing the Nicholas family, Michael Patrick Doyle, said in a statement that the family hopes justice "will be expedited by the FBI's actions."

"The investigation of the rogue Harding Street raid and the Houston Police Department must continue as far and wide as necessary," Doyle said. "If city officials continue to refuse to disclose what happened in these HPD killings, we hope federal authorities will do so. The federal indictments confirm the breadth and depth of the lies told to justify the raid before and after the death of Rhogena Nicholas."

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