Ex-HPD officer charged in botched raid to remain behind bars

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Wednesday, November 27, 2019
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Miya Shay explains the charges against the two former HPD officers. Now, a 911 caller is at the center of a raid that killed a Houston couple.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- One of the two former Houston police officers charged in a deadly, botched narcotics raid will stay in federal custody, for now.

Gerald Goines, 55, was arrested last Wednesday by the FBI on seven federal indictments related to the raid that killed Rhogena Nicholas and her husband Dennis Tuttle in their home at 7815 Harding Street last January.

This morning, a magistrate judge was prepared to grant Goines release to pre-trial home confinement. With his wife and daughter watching, Goines agreed to a number of conditions related to home confinement. Among them, he would have to wear an ankle monitor and can only leave the house for medical and legal appointments.

However, federal prosecutors asked for a stay of the bond, arguing that Goines was a flight risk because he faces up to life behind bars if convicted. The judge agreed to the stay, meaning a full hearing will have to be scheduled in front of a federal district judge to determine whether Goines will be released prior to trial.

"I think it's absurd," said Goines' defense attorney Nicole Deborde. "He's been on bond, a $300,000 bond to be exact, in state district court for almost the exact same charges, and he's come to court as directed. He's been cooperating with police since the beginning of this case."

Goines' wife Tiffany and their daughter left the courthouse shortly after the hearing was over and did not speak to the media.

In the federal court system, Goines faces civil rights charges and stands accused of depriving the victims of their constitutional right to be secure against unreasonable searches.

Goines has also been charged with two counts of first-degree murder in state district court. He is currently out on bond in those state charges. He's accused of lying to get a search warrant to go into the victims' home.

Steven Bryant, 46, is the second former HPD officer facing charges in the Jan. 28 raid.

A 53-year-old woman named Patricia Garcia has also been arrested in connection with the raid. Garcia is accused of conveying false information by making several fake 911 calls.

The charge specifically stems from Jan. 8, when Garcia made several calls claiming her daughter was inside the home on Harding, according to the indictment. Garcia is accused of saying Tuttle and Nicholas were addicts, drug dealers and that they had guns, including machine guns, inside their home.

Garcia faces five years in prison, if convicted.

After last week's actions, the Harris County District Attorney's Office released the following statement:

It is not uncommon for defendants in complex cases to be charged by both local and federal authorities under separate laws; our investigation continues. We all want to flesh out all the facts, all the evidence, and ensure that the truth is known.Goines is charged with felony murder under state law and has been charged with civil rights violations under federal law.Bryant is charged with tampering with a government record under state law and now has also been charged federally with obstructing justice by falsifying records.

Additionally, Michael Patrick Doyle of Doyle LLP, the legal counsel Nicholas' family, offered this 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."

According to friends, Tuttle and Nicholas were not the hardcore heroin dealers as described in the now-debunked search warrants.

Goines' actions, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said back in August, are what caused the deaths of Nicholas and Tuttle.

"I absolutely believe he was overcharged," DeBorde has said. "I firmly believe that Mr. Goines is innocent of any crime and we look forward to defending this case vigorously in court."

SEE ALSO: Botched HPD raid: Officer charged with 2 counts of murder

Court records show prosecutors see the case very differently. According to the charging document, officers received a 911 call relating to people using drugs at 7815 Harding with a person named "Reggie." That was earlier in the day on Jan. 8, 2019. Later on in the day, two patrol officers responded to the call, but observed no sign of criminal activity at the Harding Street house.

Records show the patrol officer who responded then wrote the information related to her call on a yellow legal pad and turned it over to the narcotics division.

That is how former officer Goines allegedly became aware of a possible drug case at the Harding Street location.

Court records show prosecutors do not believe Goines followed any of the protocol in conducting a standard police investigation between the tip and the raid. In court documents, they alleged that there was never a confidential informant, as detailed in the original warrant. They also allege that in interviews following the raid, Goines said he actually personally made the purchase of the drugs. In addition, they state Goines admitted to providing false information to a magistrate judge in order to secure the "no-knock" warrant.

"We have had an open line of communication. We have not received any information from the government on any of their activities," said DeBorde.

Meanwhile, prosecutors have said the other officer, Bryant, falsely submitted a document about drugs found on Harding Street two days after the raid already happened. Prosecutors allege Bryant retrieved some heroin from Goines' car on Jan. 30, then wrote up the drugs as evidence in the Harding Street raid, and submitted to the police department.

However, court records show Bryant admitted to investigators that he never participated in the narcotics investigation at 7815 Harding, and that he admitted to making "a mistake" in the collection of the drugs.

"This is a very tough situation for him as it is with any citizen accused of a crime," said Bryant's attorney Andy Drumheller. "This is a person who, when he was an officer and involved in the Harding Street (case), was not involved in drafting the search warrant, never entered the home, and never fired a weapon."

Bryant's case will eventually move to the same court as Goines.

WATCH: Officers Goines and Bryant released from jail

FULL VIDEO: District Attorney Kim Ogg announces the Harding Street raid charges