6 former HPD officers charged with 15 felonies linked to deadly botched raid

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Thursday, July 2, 2020
6 former HPD officers charged in connection with Harding street raid
Six former HPD officers have been charged in connection with Harding street raid.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A total of 15 new criminal felony charges have been filed by the Harris County District Attorney's Office in the ongoing investigation of a botched raid on Harding Street that killed a Houston couple.

In a briefing held on Wednesday, district attorney Kim Ogg said warrants have been issued for six former Houston narcotics officers, including former officer Gerald Goines and Steven Bryant, who have already been charged.

Five of the six are charged with falsifying government documents used in narcotics investigations.

"We rely on the very documents these officers lied on," said Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg during a briefing. Watch as she lays out the charges that were filed and how she says this greatly impacted the minority communities of Houston.

Allegations include using false information to get judges to sign search warrants, falsifying time sheets, putting false information in offense reports, and falsifying government documents to steal, prosecutors have determined.

"Goines and others could never have preyed on our community the way they did without the participation of their supervisors; every check and balance in place to stop this type of behavior was circumvented," Ogg said. "This was graft and greed at every step in the process, and prosecutors are making their way through the evidence one incident at a time."

The home in the 7800 block of Harding Street was the scene of a "no-knock" narcotics warrant that was executed by Houston police officers on Jan. 28, 2019.

The operation resulted in Rhogena Nicholas and Dennis Tuttle, a married couple, both being killed.

In addition to Goines and Bryant, those charged include former sergeants Clemente Reyna and Thomas Wood, former lieutenant Robert Gonzales, and former senior officer Hodgie Armstrong, according to court records.

Goines has previously been charged with felony murder and tampering with government records and Bryant has previously been charged with tampering with government records.

"The new charges show a pattern and practice of lying and deceit," Ogg said. "There are mountains more evidence to review, and more charges are likely as we push into the next phase of our investigation."

Supervisors signed records stating they witnessed street-level officers pay money to confidential informants for buying drugs, when the evidence reveals the supervisors were not actually there, and therefore could not have witnessed what they claimed to have witnessed, according to prosecutors.

"This investigation is peeling back layers of a narcotics-enforcement system gone awry," Ogg said. "It calls into question the way HPD has been enforcing narcotics laws, especially in communities of color. The lion's share of arrests made by this squad were minority men for low-level drug crimes."

The cases filed Wednesday will be presented to a Harris County grand jury this month.

Prosecutors are also reviewing cases to determine if defendants were wrongfully convicted after being arrested by Goines.

Below is a list of those charged as of July 1, 2020:

Officer Gerald Goines Three charges of tampering with a government record (search warrants.) Third-Degree Felony, two to 10 years in prison. One charge of theft by a public servant between $2,500 and $30,000, Third-Degree Felony.

Officer Steven Bryant Two charges of tampering with a government record (confidential informant forms which contain details of money allegedly given to informants for services or buying drugs.) State Jail Felony, six months to two years in jail. One charge of theft by a public servant between $2,500 and $30,000, a Third-Degree Felony.

Sgt. Clemente Reyna Three charges of tampering with a government record (confidential informant forms.) State Jail Felony. One charge of theft by a public servant between $2,500 and $30,000, Third-Degree Felony.

Sgt. Thomas Wood One charge of tampering with a government record (confidential informant form.) State Jail Felony. One charge of theft by a public servant between $2,500 and $30,000, Third-Degree Felony.

Lt. Robert Gonzales One charge of misapplication of fiduciary property, State Jail Felony, for the reckless handling of HPD money. Gonzales held a position of trust and was required to verify and authorize any expenditures of up to $2,500.

Officer Hodgie Armstrong One charge of tampering with a government record (offense report,) State Jail Felony.

Police Chief Art Acevedo said in a statement, "The Harris County District Attorney's Office has not briefed the police department on the charges recently announced against former HPD employees who separated from the department more than a year ago. We have cooperated fully throughout the investigative process and will continue to do so."

The Houston Police Officer's Union released the following statement:

It has come to our attention that four retired members of the HPOU have been charged by District Attorney Kim Ogg. As their alleged conduct occurred during their employment as Houston Police Officers, the Houston Police Officers' Union will be representing them. This will ensure they are not victims of what is clearly a political ploy from the most corrupt District Attorney in the history of Harris County, Kim Ogg.

It does not take 18 months to investigate a "tampering with a government document" case. This is simply a distraction from the repeated failures of her office and continued negative attention which she seemingly invites on a daily basis. Furthermore, we have it on good authority that immediately following the demonstrations over George Floyd's death, she approached her entire civil rights division, and instructed them to "indict as many cops as you can" (whether justified or not) by the end of June in order to capitalize on the political climate. Now us sharing this will likely lead to her seizing her employees personal cell phones and attempting to fire all that do not fall in line with her. But we cannot stay silent while she attempts to indict innocent people simply because she wants to be re-elected to a position which she is clearly too incompetent to hold.

It is apparent to any reasonable, law abiding member of our community, that Kim Ogg has become a rogue DA. A district attorney who looks the other way while violent crime ravages our community but will charge police officers if she believes it will help her failing campaign. We look forward to our officers' day in court.