County commissioners vote to table request for additional funding for Harding Street investigation

Phil Archer reporting.

HOUSTON – Harris County commissioners voted to table a request from Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg for more money to hire prosecutors and investigators to help in the ongoing investigation of a botched HPD drug raid in January that left two people dead and five police officers wounded.

What happened

The raid was carried out at 7815 Harding St. on Jan. 28. Homeowners Steve Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas were killed.

Ogg asked for $1.7 million to hire seven prosecutors and three new investigators.

“What we didn’t know was that the Harding investigation would require the review of 14,000 incidents. The Harding investigation is massive," Assistant District Attorney Natasha Sinclair told the commissioners Tuesday afternoon.

Commissioner objections

Harris County Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis objected to the request, saying that the inquiry should be conducted independently of the district attorney or police.

“I believe after it happened there should have been an independent review and I still believe there ought to be an independent review and I'm willing to vote for funding for an independent review,” Ellis said.

There were other objections from the court.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo objected to supplying the additional funds outside of the county budget process. More than two dozen people signed up to comment, both pro and con.

Request tabled

Following about an hour of sometimes heated debate, commissioners voted 3-2 to table the request.

Other Ogg requests

In February, the commissioners turned down a previous request by Ogg for $21 million to hire 100 new attorneys to handle the county’s growing criminal caseload.

In April, commissioners approved funding the hiring of four new employees in the D.A.’s Environmental Crimes Division.