Authorities announce Houston officer case review, FBI probe
HOUSTON (AP) — Prosecutors will review more than 1,400 criminal cases that involved a Houston officer who the police chief has accused of lying in an affidavit justifying a drug raid on a home in which officers shot and killed two residents, authorities said Wednesday.
The FBI also announced that it is opening an investigation to determine whether any civil rights were violated as a result of the raid and shooting last month.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said at a news conference that he welcomed the FBI investigation “in the spirit of transparency.”
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said her office’s review will look at cases spanning decades that involved Officer Gerald Goines, a 30-year department veteran. Twenty-seven of those cases are active.
“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,” Ogg said in a statement.
Goines was one of the four officers who were shot in a gunfight that killed 59-year-old Dennis Tuttle and 58-year-old Rhogena Nicholas, who both lived in the home where the raid occurred on Jan. 28. A fifth officer injured his knee during the shooting.
Police investigators now allege that Goines, who’s been suspended, lied in the search warrant affidavit, saying a confidential informant had bought heroin at the home. But the informant told investigators no such drug buy ever took place.
Goines’ attorney, Nicole DeBorde, said Wednesday that Ogg’s review is necessary.
“It’s exactly the right thing for her to do,” DeBorde said. “We welcome that.”
DeBorde has said Goines is innocent of any crime. She said partial information that has been released about Goines has painted a “very one-sided picture of (Goines’) character.”
The FBI’s probe will look at the “totality of everything that went down” with the drug raid and shooting to determine if someone was deprived of their civil rights, said agency spokesman Connor Hagan.
Hagan declined to comment further on the case, citing the ongoing investigation.
Acevedo said the FBI’s involvement doesn’t mean the federal agency will be taking over his department’s investigation into the drug raid and shooting and whether any state charges will be filed.
The police chief also asked residents to not let the actions of one officer represent the department.
“The majority of our men and women are honorable, dedicated professionals,” Acevedo said.
No timeline was given for how long the various investigations will take.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner asked residents to be patient and allow for a “complete, thorough, honest and credible investigation.”
DeBorde said a neutral review of the raid, and of Goines’ police work, is necessary but that the effort has been undermined by Acevedo’s public comments criticizing Goines.
Acevedo also announced that his department on Wednesday formally changed its policy to restrict the use of “no-knock warrants,” which was the kind used in the deadly drug raid. Under such warrants, police can enter a home without giving any notification. Acevedo said he or someone he designates must now approve all such warrants.
The police chief also announced that body cameras will now be worn by SWAT team members and by officers who execute search warrants. Officers involved in the drug raid did not wear body cameras.
Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter: https://twitter.com/juanlozano70