Federal judge rules against Houston in latest Harding Street chapter

HOUSTON – A federal judge has derailed the City of Houston’s efforts to push a civil lawsuit regarding the deadly botched raid on Harding Street in federal court.

In a memorandum entered with the court Friday morning, Judge Kenneth Hoyt writes, “the City cannot appoint itself a “federal actor” simply because federal claims “may” be raised in a future lawsuit.”

The civil lawsuit, filed by the estates of Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas, has been met with obstacles by the city of Houston from the beginning according to Mike Doyle, one of the attorneys involved, “This is the fifth time a court has looked at and said, ‘city you need to start answering questions,’” said Doyle on Friday.

The family is seeking to secure records from the Houston Police Department, including ballistic, as well as interviews with those involved in the deadly raid that killed Tuttle and Nicholas on Jan. 28, 2019.

“The families are beyond tired of the cover-up at this point. They want answers. Every step of the way they are obviously happy that the court says no, we are not going to let this stay covered up. They are ready to get some answers,” Doyle said.

KPRC 2 Investigates exposed the botched raid was built on a fabricated warrant in February 2019. The deadly incident has resulted in several federal and state criminal indictments of HPD officers from that night, including murder charges for former narcotics officer Gerald Goines.

The matter is now being remanded back to probate court, “This is just the latest judge to reject the city’s concealment.”

State Representative Gene Wu, who last summer called for the release of HPD’s internal audit of the narcotic’s division following, had the following reaction to the ruling, ″I’m looking forward to the day that the Tuttle’s get some justice.”

As a former prosecutor, Wu understands the strategy by the city’s attorneys in putting up a fight in court. It is a legal issue at its core, but Wu also believes the city should have been more forthcoming with key evidence from the beginning, “I don’t think the body cam should have been protected. I don’t think the ballistic report or any of this information about what happened on Harding Street should have been kept secret period.”

Doyle says the message to HPD and the city is simple, ″The family is not going away.”

The City of Houston and HPD did not have a comment on Friday’s ruling.

The date for a new hearing is now Tuesday at 9 a.m.

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