HOUSTON – The family of one of the two people killed during a police raid at a Houston home nearly 10 months ago is accusing the city and police department of trying to block their investigation of the fatal shooting, according to court records filed Monday.
The family’s attorneys want to depose Houston Police Department officers involved in organizing the botched raid, but the city put that on hold by filing an appeal to a previous court order to allow the depositions to proceed.
In the motion for expedited consideration that was filed in the 14th Court of Appeals, the family of Rhogena Nicholas said they believe attorneys for the city of Houston could file successive appeals that would delay the process and “run out the clock” on the statute of limitations.
Nicholas and her husband, Dennis Tuttle, were killed during the Jan. 28 raid at their Harding Street home. Investigators originally said that the raid was part of an anti-drug operation, but later determined that officers on the HPD's narcotics squad lied to obtain the no-knock warrant used to enter the couple’s home.
An investigation conducted by attorneys for the Nicholas family concluded that the shots that killed her were fired from outside the home.
In Monday’s filing, the Nicholas family accuse the city and the Houston Police Department of being “completely uncooperative,” and blocking the family’s “attempts to obtain 911 call records relating to the incident and refusing to disclose the results of the Department’s investigation of the incident.”
Mary Benton, spokeswoman for Mayor Sylvester Turner's office, issued the following written statement about the motion:
"The Estate of Rhogena Nicholas filed a Rule 202 petition for pre-suit discovery in Probate Court #1 on July 25, 2019. The City filed a plea on the basis that the probate court had no jurisdiction to consider a Rule 202. The plea was denied and the City filed an appeal, which stayed the probate court case.
"The attorneys for the Estate of Rhogena Nicholas determined their course of action to obtain information in this matter, and the City has responded appropriately."
Former Houston police Officers Gerald Goines and Steven Bryant have been charged in connection with the raid.