Grand jury 'indicted a hero' with murder in deadly HPD botched raid, lawyer says

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The lawyer of a Houston police officer who is facing a murder charge in a botched drug raid believes a Harris County grand jury "indicted a hero."

A day after being the second officer indicted with murder in the 2019 HPD raid that left a married couple dead, Felipe Gallegos, his wife and his parents were front and center during a news conference on Tuesday. Gallegos turned himself in and was granted a $50,000 bond after the murder indictment.

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"It's a sad day in Harris County."



Gallegos' lawyer, famed defense attorney Rusty Hardin, insisted his client did not know the "no knock" warrant was being executed under faulty information. Therefore, Hardin said, Gallegos acted in defense of fellow officers and himself when they came under fire that day.

Two other people were shot during the incident that eventually left Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas, a couple living at the raided home on Harding Street, dead.

While Hardin spoke at length for his client, Gallegos gave his say on the indictment.

"It's been very challenging just because I haven't been awarded the opportunity to tell my side of the story. To be able to explain to them that I'm not the bad person that I'm being painted to be," Gallegos said, adding his family is facing difficulties as well.

Gallegos' indictment is for Tuttle's death. According to Hardin, Gallegos actually took cover behind a tree as other members of HPD's Narcotics Division moved in. But after the shots, he moved in.

As it stands, Gallegos and former officer Gerald Goines are the only ones indicted with murder. Goines is accused of lying to a judge to obtain the "no knock" search warrant to raid the house.

Goines and others executed the drug warrant based on information that was later determined to be based on the word of an informant who never actually went to the house.

Goines coordinated the raid for Squad 15 of HPD's Narcotics Division, according to the investigation. Another officer, Steven Bryant, was also previously charged with tampering.

Along with Gallegos, five other officers were indicted. To date, 12 total officers, both former and current members of the Houston Police Department, have been indicted. Most have been accused of falsifying time cards and other alleged crimes related to their pay.

Gallegos faces up to life in prison.

FULL ANNOUNCEMENT: DA Kim Ogg announces new grand jury indictments in the Harding Street raid
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Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced more grand jury indictments against HPD officers two years after a botched drug raid that killed a married couple.



The other five officers who were indicted in the case face counts of engaging in organized criminal activity resulting from the investigation into the botched raid. The officers indicted on Monday were:

  • Oscar Pardo - (HPD) Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity, to wit: Aggregate Theft by a Public Servant ($30,000 or more but less than $150,000) and Tampering with a Governmental Record (1st degree)
  • Cedell Lovings - (Status Unclear) Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity, to wit: Aggregate Theft by a Public Servant ($30,000 or more but less than $150,000) and Tampering with a Governmental Record (1st degree)
  • Nadeem Ashraf - (HPD) Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity, to wit: Aggregate Theft by a Public Servant ($30,000 or more but less than $150,000) and Tampering with a Governmental Record (1st degree)
  • Clemente Reyna - (No longer HPD, retired) Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity, to wit: Aggregate Theft by a Public Servant ($30,000 or more but less than $150,000) and Tampering with a Governmental Record (1st degree)
  • Thomas Wood - (No longer HPD, retired) Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity, to wit: Aggregate Theft by a Public Servant ($30,000 or more but less than $150,000) and Tampering with a Governmental Record (1st degree)

According to Ogg, the newly indicted officers had been involved in a long-term scheme to steal overtime from the city.

Also on Tuesday, the Houston Police Officers Union also responded to the latest indictments to HPD officers, with union president Doug Griffith characterizing the lesser charges as paperwork irregularities that prosecutors cherry-picked in the investigation.

Overall, both Griffith and Hardin ripped District Attorney Kim Ogg decision to prosecute Gallegos, with the former insisting his actions had nothing to do with the alleged way Goines obtained the warrant.

WATCH: HPOU president rips DA over Gallegos indictment
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"It's a sad day in Harris County": Houston Police Officers Union president Doug Griffith rips the decision by the district attorney's office to indict a second officer with murder



Meanwhile, Mike Doyle, the attorney for the family of Rhogena Nicolas, weighed in shortly after the indictments Monday:

"These latest indictments confirm some of the findings from the families independent investigation, and yet again raises two questions: How high does the corruption of HPD Narcotics Squad 15 go and why has the city and HPD fought so hard, still, to conceal the basic facts about what happened before, during and after the murderous raid? The Nicholas family is grateful for news of the district attorneys continuing work on the case and urges the mayor and police chief to finally end the cover up of the full facts they have been sitting on for so long."

Meanwhile, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo posted a statement to Twitter, where he reiterated his belief that he thought Gallegos and other officers charged today had behaved appropriately.

"I am disheartened this process has taken two years and that the officer who was willing to testify was not afforded the opportunity to do so by the grand jury. Nonetheless, I respect the grand jury process and hope this case will go to trial as soon as possible. All involved parties and our community deserve a transparent and timely resolution."



SEE ALSO: 6 former HPD officers charged with 15 felonies linked to deadly botched raid
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Six former HPD officers have been charged in connection with Harding street raid.



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