Two former Houston police officers and a 911 caller were arrested Wednesday morning by the FBI in connection with the botched Harding Street raid.
The FBI has confirmed in a tweet that Gerald Goines, 55, and Steven Bryant, 46, have been taken into custody. Federal agents also said Patricia Ann Garcia, 53, a 911 caller, was also arrested in connection with the raid.
All three appeared in front of a federal judge hours after their arrest.
Bryant was given a $50,000 unsecured bond. Goines and Garcia have a detention hearing scheduled for Friday.
The nine-count federal indictment was unsealed Wednesday morning.
The federal indictment stems from the Jan. 28 narcotics raid HPD conducted on the 7800 block of Harding Street. The enforcement action resulted in the deaths of Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas, as well as injuries to other Houston police officers
Federal investigators say Goines is charged with two counts of depriving the victims’ constitutional right to be secure against unreasonable searches.
The indictment alleges Goines made numerous materially false statements in the state search warrant he obtained for their residence.
Goines and Bryant are charged with obstructing justice by falsifying records. Goines allegedly made several false statements in his tactical plan and offense report prepared in connection with that search warrant.
The indictment alleges Bryant falsely claimed in a supplemental case report he had previously assisted Goines in the Harding Street investigation. Bryant allegedly identified a brown powdery substance (heroin) he retrieved from Goines’ vehicle as narcotics purchased from the Harding Street residence Jan. 27.
Goines is further charged with three separate counts of obstructing an official proceeding.
The federal grand jury alleged Goines falsely stated Jan. 30 that a confidential informant had purchased narcotics at the Harding Street location three days prior. He also falsely stated Jan. 31 that a second informant purchased narcotics at that residence that day, according to the charges.
On Feb. 13, he also falsely claimed he had purchased narcotics at that residence on that day. The indictment alleges none of these statements were true.
The charges against Garcia allege she conveyed false information by making several fake 911 calls. Specifically, on Jan. 8, she allegedly made several calls claiming her daughter was inside the Harding Street location.
According to the indictment, Garcia added that the residents of the home were addicts and drug dealers and that they had guns, including machine guns, inside the home. The charges allege none of Garcia’s claims were true.
Prior to Wednesday's arrest, Goines was out on bond for felony murder charges in the deaths of Tuttle and Nicholas.
Bryant was charged with second-degree tampering with a government document. He was also out on bond prior to his arrest by federal agents.
HPD Chief Art Acevedo addressed the arrests at a noon press conference on Wednesday.
“We made a commitment to look at the good, the bad and the ugly when this happened to our community, to report back and today is another step in that journey towards justice for the deceased individuals, Miss Rhogena and Mir. Tuttle,” the chief said.
The police chief would not comment on the details of the investigation, but reiterated the department's commitment to finding the truth.
“We’re never been afraid to finding the truth as a police department, because our commitment is to the truth, and our commitment is to the rule of law and I think again, when the story of this incident fully told, when it can it can be told, we’re going to see a police department that out of a what appeared to be a complete tragedy, and it is a tragedy when you have people shot, we just didn’t take anything at face value," the chief said. "We initiated a very comprehensive investigation and it was our department that provided the information to the district attorney’s office that led to those state charges, and it is this police department that continues to be heavily involved and cooperating with the district attorney’s office, the FBI, that led to the indictments at the federal level and to the arrests today.”
In regards to what led to the raid, Acevedo explained that they woudl not be there today if it were not a phone call or calls.
“Remember the police department received a call, somebody place a call, or maybe more than one call, led to a chain of events, but for that call, we wouldn’t be standing here today and so all of that will go into play, in terms of accountability, levels of accountability, what people are responsible for,” he said.
Acevedo highlighted the department's efforts in trying to uncover what really led to the raid.
“We take the use of deadly force very seriously, and just this police department, in general in policing, we take it extremely seriously, and we did it through our own volition, our own initiative put together a team that was directed to take a lot of steps to make sure that that we uncovered the good, the bad, and the ugly,” he said.
Boyd Smith, an attorney who represents family of Tuttle released the following statement in regards to Wednesday's arrests:
"The family of Dennis Tuttle has suffered, and is still suffering, a long and devastating ordeal. Their sense of loss, as well as their inability to make sense of what happened and why, are as raw today as they were on January 28. They are pleased to learn that the US Attorney is taking this action and to see that the wheels of justice are turning. The family still has very limited information. They still have very many unanswered questions, and like the rest of the world we are eager to see how this plays out in a court of law."
Michael Patrick Doyle, attorney for the family of Nicholas released the following statement:
“We hope the Nicholas family's quest for justice in the death of Rhogena will be expedited by the FBI’s actions today. The investigation of the rogue Harding Street raid and the Houston Police Department must continue as far and wide as necessary. 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.”
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg says it's not clear why Goines and Bryant allegedly lied on the warrant.
If convicted of the federal civil rights charges, Goines faces up to life in prison. Each obstruction count carries a potential 20-year sentence, while Garcia faces a five-year term of imprisonment for conveying false information.
Bryant was given a $50,000 unsecured bond. Goines and Garcia will have a detention hearing set for Friday.
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