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1 year later: A look back at botched Harding Street raid, what’s next

HOUSTON – A year ago Tuesday night is when a home in the neighborhood of Pecan Park in southeast Houston went from being unknown to making headlines across the nation.

A botched raid resulted in multiple Houston Police Department officers being shots and two homeowners killed.

The Houston Police Department’s storyline about that night in the days that followed named its officers as heroes and the two people inside 7815 Harding Street Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas as dangerous drug dealers who peddled black tar heroin.

The story fell apart on Feb. 15, 2019, after Channel 2 Investigates first revealed documents showing cops manufactured an unlawful warrant prior to the raid. Hours after the bombshell report, HPD Chief Art Acevedo defended his department’s actions to Channel 2 Investigates stating, "It’s really important for the community to realize, we still had reason to be at that home.”

Days later, the FBI launched a civil rights investigation into HPD and the deadly botched raid.

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg also launched a criminal probe making her goal clear stating, “People are going to see what really happened. We’ll get to the truth.” Her office also launched an extensive review of thousands of past cases involving now-former HPD officers Gerald Goines and Steven Bryant.

Shortly thereafter, Goines and Bryant retired from the department.

Last spring, Channel 2 Investigates was the first media outlet to take viewers inside the home and revealed what autopsy reports were found. KPRC 2 Investigates was on the scene for several days with a private forensic investigator hired by Nicholas and Tuttle’s families to recover evidence left behind. Key evidence, according to investigator Michael Maloney, was left behind at the scene.

Then, by mid-May, HPD investigation into the shooting was complete.

In August, Ogg directly charged Goines with murder and Bryant for tampering with a government document. Hours after the charges were handed down, Acevedo said, “I stand by that. We had probable cause to be there.”

By the fall, Channel 2 Investigates reported on the findings thus far by the private forensic investigator Maloney. At his office in Missouri, Maloney said his forensic findings had not matched with the narrative pushed out by HPD.

In November, Goines and Bryant were federally indicted. Government prosecutors argued Goines lied repeatedly to get what he wanted.

A new name came to light, Patricia Garcia. She was the 911 caller who investigators accused of reporting false information. That call was the catalyst to get the ball rolling with HPD last January, even though officers found nothing suspicious during their initial visit.

Hours after the federal charges revolving around a false 911 call and tampering with a government document, Acevedo, for a third time, said HPD had reason to be at the home.

It was during a news conference when Acevedo for the first time publicly that the families of Tuttle and Nicholas had waited months to hear, “We had an officer lie about his actions that led up to the issuance of the warrant, and for that, I apologize to that family.”