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FBI launches civil rights investigation into deadly botched raid

HOUSTON – The Houston Police Department and the city are under fire after a botched drug raid that left two people dead and four officers shot.

Now, the FBI is investigating to determine if any civil rights were violated in the incident on Harding Street.

Mayor Sylvester Turner, along with Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, addressed the public at a news conference Wednesday afternoon. Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg was not able to attend due to a family medical emergency, Turner said.

"I am pleased they (the FBI) have opened a formal civil rights investigation," Acevedo said. "We welcome it in the spirit of transparency."

The FBI said in a statement the agency will collect all available facts and evidence while conducting its investigation in a "fair, comprehensive, and impartial manner."

 

 

"The FBI is an independent investigative entity whose sole purpose is to find details of an incident and prepare a fair collection of the facts so prosecutors can decide whether federal criminal charges are warranted," FBI Houston Special Agent in Charge Perrye K. Turner said.

Turner said a 21-person independent police oversight advisory board, which is comprised of citizens, will conduct its own review on the shootout in addition to the FBI's investigation.

"We want this to move along as quick as possible, to heal our city," Turner said.

In the wake of the deadly shootout, Acevedo said HPD is working quickly to have body-worn cameras used during the execution of warrants.

The chief said officers serving warrants will start wearing body cameras and the department will stop using no-knock warrants.

However, the department will not be eliminating no-knock warrants altogether, but rather the chief is making tweaks to the policy. He said there will be restrictions on how often they are issued.

Acevedo said he or a designee must review and approve the no-knock request before it's sent to a judge for approval.

In a heated town hall meeting Monday, Acevedo and Ogg talked with community members about the scandal and controversy surrounding the case agent, Officer Gerald Goines, and a raid-turned-shootout at 7815 Harding St.

"I’m very confident we're going to have criminal charges against one or more police officers," Acevedo said during the town hall.

All this comes after Channel 2 Investigates first uncovered a warrant that raised questions about Goines and whether he should face charges on allegations that the entire sting was built on a lie.

Goines was relieved of duty, but is still getting paid, according to authorities. He will be a part of the FBI's investigation, Acevedo said.

Ogg said she has ordered the review of 1,400 cases connected to Goines. He is accused of lying to obtain a search warrant that led to the Jan. 28 Harding Street raid that killed 59-year-old Dennis Tuttle and 58-year-old Rhogena Nicholas.

Ogg said 27 of the cases that will be reviewed are active and lawyers involved in those cases have been notified.

“Our duty is to see that justice is done in every case,” Ogg said in a written statement. “Although the criminal investigation of Officer Goines is ongoing, we have an immediate ethical obligation to notify defendants and their lawyers in Goines' other cases to give them an opportunity to independently review any potential defenses."

Nicole DeBoarde, Goines' attorney, said her client welcomes the investigation.

“It’s exactly the thing we want them to do," DeBoarde said in a written statement. "We welcome inquiry into his work, background and his character. It’s the right thing for the district attorney to do.”

Mayoral candidate Bill King released a statement about the FBI investigation: "I am pleased to learn the FBI is investigating this senseless tragedy and will be conducting a formal investigation. I'm sure it will be a thorough, objective and complete investigation, which is what all Houstonians should want to ensure something like this does not happen again. It should also help restore faith in our police department." 

Here is a timeline of events: