State lawmakers call HPD botched Harding Street raid audit a 'scam'

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Thursday, July 2, 2020
Houston lawmakers discuss handling of investigation into botched raid
WATCH: Texas House of Representatives member Gene Wu calls for change after Wednesday's sudden release of the Harding Street audit.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- State lawmakers are blasting the Houston Police Department for investigating its own, claiming that Wednesday's release of the botched Hardin raid audit was only a small part of a bigger problem.

READ: Full detailed narcotics division report

Together, lawmakers and the representatives for Rhogena Nicholas and Dennis Tuttle held a news conference to discuss how police handled the investigation. State Representative Gene Wu claims, "This entire Narcotics Division audit debacle has been handled in the most unprofessional and obtuse way possible."

While the investigation is still ongoing, representatives believe this was an entire rogue division's wrongdoing.

"I'm more than just disappointed in what we've seen in the result of all of this. I'm disappointed that we had to coax this tiny bit of transparency. We just get a tiny little peek into the systemic issues this department has." State Rep. John Rosenthal said.

Even though Wu said he is not calling for Houston Police Department Chief Art Acevedo to lose his job, he is calling for a change.

"I think this is just one thing in the police chief's line of duty. I think he's trying to protect his department. I think he's doing his job. I think overall, Chief (Art) Acevedo is doing a good job," Wu said.

According to Wu, lawmakers also plan on introducing reform legislation that forbids law enforcement agencies from hiding internal audits from public access.

On Wednesday, total of 15 new criminal felony charges were filed by the Harris County District Attorney's Office in the ongoing investigation of the botched raid.

In a briefing held 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 officers 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 Nicholas and Tuttle, both being killed.


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