Deadly raid leads to change on no-knock warrants

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The deaths of Dennis and Rhogena Tuttle as part of a disastrous no-knock warrant has brought on one major policy shift at the Houston Police Department.

"I'm 99.9 percent sure I'm not going to be using it," Chief Art Acevedo said. "If there's a specific case, it would have to come through my office."

The chief made the announcement during a loud community town hall Monday night, pointing out the reasoning behind no-knock raids, to prevent suspects from flushing drugs down the toilet, just doesn't make sense.

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"If the amount of dope somebody has is so little, someone is going to flush it, you don't have much of a case to start with," Acevedo said. "And if they're so dangerous, why not wait until they come out of the house?"

We do not know just how many no-knock raids the department authorized last year, but well known defense attorney Kent Schaffer welcomes the policy shift. He also hopes search warrants get more scrutiny.

"Now it's going to cause prosecutors and judges to look more carefully at the search warrant, and when a defendant comes and says 'That never happened, that wasn't me,' I think people are going to pay more attention," Schaffer said.

Unfortunately, it came too late for Elizabeth Gonsoulin and her family. In 2013, Houston Police conducted a no-knock raid into her house, led by Officer Gerald Goines, the same officer involved in the Harding Street raid. During the March 19 raid, her son George Benard was shot.

"All of the sudden they just busted in that door, and George got up and went to get water and they shot him," Gonsoulin told us on Monday.

Benard lived, but lost most of his fingers and toes.

Now, ABC13 has uncovered new information: the search warrant that led to that raid. It was signed by Goines, and the target of the raid was Dominick Benard, not George. Dominick is George's older brother and did not even live in the family home.

"Just because you have the same last name doesn't mean they have the right to shoot you," Schaffer said.

Former Judge Marc Carter, who spent 15 years on the bench in Harris County, says these recent developments have made him think about the hundreds of warrants he signed during his judicial career.

"If there's a police officer that's dishonest, there's no way I'm going to know whether or not he's dishonest," said Carter, who is now a defense attorney. "Because he's taken an oath, he's swearing the information he's provided me is true."

"This is a perfect example of why they should have bodycams," Carter continued. "You know, like my wife said, 'If you don't have anything to hide, why is a camera a problem?'"

Mayor Sylvester Turner is expected to have a news conference discussing these new developments on Wednesday afternoon.

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