HOUSTON - A return and inventory search warrant was released Friday, providing new insight into what was found at a house on Harding Street after a deadly shootout involving Houston police last month.
The Jan. 28 raid at the home on Harding Street in southeast Houston’s Gloverdale neighborhood ended with two people dead and five officers injured.
According to a statement released by the Houston Police Officers’ Union, an officer was relieved of his duties after the shootout. He was not among the officers who were injured.
Investigators said officers were executing a search warrant at the home as part of a drug investigation.
Dennis Tuttle, 59, and Rhogena Nicholas, 58, were killed in the shooting. Four officers were shot and a fifth officer suffered a knee injury. All but two of the officers have been released from the hospital.
Houston police Chief Art Acevedo spoke Friday about the ongoing investigation.
"We will get to the bottom of this with everything that went well, the good, the bad and the ugly, because that is our moral and legal obligation as a department," Acevedo said.
Questions continue to swirl around what exactly happened that afternoon, when several Houston Police Department narcotics officers served a no-knock warrant at the home. Acevedo refused to answer direct questions about the investigation.
Acevedo said he wants to wait until the investigation is complete.
"I'm not going to speak any more about the investigation because we are not going to piecemeal the discussion," Acevedo said.
Acevedo said HPD has its own special investigation unit working on the case and does not plan on asking Texas Rangers or federal authorities for help.
The chief said he’s confident their internal unit will iron out what happened last Monday.
"The day we can't investigate ourselves, we might as well close shop," Acevedo said. “I just want to remind the public it’s our special investigations unit that we put together that has actually charged two officers in a recent, last year and a half, two years, they’ve been charged after being involved in shootings based on investigations we’ve conducted.”
Even though many are questioning the nature of the search, the chief vowed that the department will be transparent.
"All I know is that when we are done with our investigation, we will have uncovered and turned over every stone to get to the truth. We owe that to the involved officers. We owe that to the family of the deceased suspects, and at the end of the day, we owe that to this community," Acevedo said.
Here is a list of items seized in the raid, according to official documents:
- 20-gauge Beretta shotgun
- 12-gauge Remington shotgun
- .22-caliber Winchester rifle
- 7 mm Remington rifle
- Approximately 1.5 grams of an unknown white powder
- Approximately 18 grams of marijuana
According to a search warrant and an affidavit, the investigation lasted about two weeks after "previously received information that" a man at the house "was selling narcotics." Acevedo said the investigation began after a tip from a neighbor.
The affidavit says on the day before the shootout, an unidentified officer met "at a predetermined location" with a "confidential informant" who "has proven to be credible and reliable on many prior occasions," helping officers make arrests and seize narcotics.
The officer told the informant "narcotics were being bought and stored" at 7815 Harding St. "The confidential informant was provided" cash by the unidentified officer "for the purpose of buying narcotics from any individuals" at the house, the affidavit says.
The officer watched the informant walk up to the house, where he was met by a man. After several minutes, the informant returned to the officer with "a quantity of brown substance" the officer identified as heroin.
The informant told the officer that "a large quantity of plastic baggies" of the substance was in the house, along with a handgun, the affidavit says. Afterward, undercover narcotics officers continued to watch the house.
The search warrant gave HPD the authority "to dispense with the usual requirement that you knock and announce your purpose before entering" the suspected drug house.
Acevedo said later that when the team of undercover officers entered the home Monday afternoon, they were met by an aggressive dog, which was shot by one officer.
Acevedo said Tuttle walked out of a back room in the home and used a .357 revolver to shoot at the officers. Acevedo said that as the first wounded officer fell on a living room couch, Tuttle's wife, Nicholas, tried to grab the officer's weapon. The .357 revolver was not listed on the return and inventory search warrant document.
Officers returned fire, killing both Tuttle and Nicholas, Acevedo said.
On the night of the shooting, officers searched the suspected drug house and found marijuana, an unidentified white, powdery substance, several shotguns and a rifle, the chief said. No heroin was found.
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