'Debacle': Forensic investigator reveals his findings on the Harding Street raid

By Mario Diaz - Reporter

HOUSTON - It has been more than six months since forensic investigator Michael Maloney first stepped inside 7815 Harding St.

His mission? Far from simple, as he is working to discover the truth.  

Hired by the families of Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas, Maloney and his team recovered several rounds, months after the deadly botched raid. Maloney told KPRC 2 Investigates in May that, "This was surprising for a scene that was already processed."

Maloney is a decorated forensic investigator with nearly 30 years of experience. During his spring visit, he reconstructed bullet trajectories and carefully examined the inside of the now-infamous home where Houston Police Department narcotics officers carried out the deadly botched raid. After spending four days at the home last spring, Maloney is now talking in his first sit-down interview.  

Maloney made his intimate knowledge of his work clear.

"I knew where he spent his final moments as he laid dying and his teeth were still there," Maloney said. "How do you come in and process a scene and leave part of a victim lying on the floor in a puddle of blood?"

KPRC 2 Investigates traveled to Missouri last week to speak with Maloney. It did not take long for him to be blunt with his assessment.  

When asked if the narrative he has heard from HPD matches up in any way, in his opinion? Maloney said, “No it doesn't."

One of the biggest discoveries for Maloney was that the round he said killed Nicholas also has the DNA of Tuttle on it.

"I was very surprised when it ended up having a minor contributor of Dennis Tuttle," Maloney said. "I was also very pleased, because it allows us to then position Dennis Tuttle at some point during the dynamic shooting event."

The wound reveals not only where Tuttle was inside the home, but also the view an HPD officer had when he fired the shot, according to Maloney.

"What we have to realize is that this bullet is fired from outside of the house. There's not a view inside of the house," Maloney said. "Rhogena Nichols is shot blind. That means Tuttle was shot, at least by that grazing wound across his forearm, blind, as well. They didn't see him."

At the time of death, Tuttle weighed only 112 pounds, he had his right hand bandaged and his leg in a brace. However, HPD said he was still capable of hitting four trained officers after surprising him with a no-knock warrant.  When asked if he has discovered anything that shows Dennis Tuttle fired off a round, Maloney said: "I have not discovered any evidence that he has fired off a round, nor has any evidence been made available to me that would indicate that he fired."

Friendly fire has also been a question asked by many following the shooting. In the hours after former narcotics officer Gerald Goines was charged with two counts of murder, HPD Chief Art Acevedo said, "I stand by our investigation, and I can tell you there is no evidence of friendly fire in this case."

Maloney’s reaction? "It's easy to say there is absolutely no indication of friendly fire but for transparency's sake, when you have such a debacle at the doorway, with shots raining in against the house that aren't being aimed at individuals but are just shooting a structure and everything else, you would think that rather than just state 'There is no evidence,' we would see that evidence."

When asked about his viewpoint regarding the raid being a complete debacle, Maloney said: "I believe I am completely justified in viewing it as a debacle."

Acevedo did not want to sit down with KPRC 2 Investigates for an interview. He said in a text to KPRC 2 Investigates, “The Department is not going to engage in public comment and jeopardize the pending criminal prosecution.”

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