Attorney claims murder charge against HPD officer in Harding Street case is politically motivated

Union president echoes attorney’s claim

HOUSTON – A lawyer who is representing one of the officers charged in connection with the deadly Harding Street police raid claimed Tuesday that the charge is politically motivated.

Attorney Rusty Hardin is representing Houston police Officer Felipe Gallegos who was charged with murder in connection with the January 2019 raid that killed Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas. Gallegos has been charged in connection with Tuttle’s death.

Gallegos was one of six Houston officers who were newly charged in the case Monday.

“They indicted a hero,” Hardin said at a news conference.

Hardin said Gallegos was responding to his fellow officers being shot by Tuttle. He said Gallegos was doing what he thought he needed to do to save his life and the lives of his fellow officers.

Gallegos tried to testify before the grand jury that later indicted him, Hardin said. He said the grand jury declined to hear from Gallegos before handing up the indictment.

“I haven’t been awarded the opportunity to tell my side of the story, to be able to explain that I’m not the bad person that I’m being painted to be,” Gallegos said.

Hardin said the charge against Gallegos is part of an anti-police agenda and that Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg is jumping on the bandwagon of a political issue to further her career.

Hardin said he does not want Gallegos’ case to be the other side of the police-reform issue, but he wants the case to be decided on the fact that his client is a 12-year veteran of the Houston Police Department without a blemish on his record.

“We’re not making the community safer,” Hardin said. “We’re making it more dangerous.”

Six other officers have been previously charged in connection with the case.

You can watch a replay of Hardin’s news conference below:

A Houston attorney and the police officer he is representing speak about a murder charge being filed against him in connection with the Harding Street police raid.
A Houston attorney and the police officer he is representing speak about a murder charge being filed against him in connection with the Harding Street police raid.

Police union president calls charges ‘TV justice’

Douglas Griffith, president of the Houston Police Officers’ Union, repeated Hardin’s claims that the officers were charged for political gain.

Griffith said that the actions of former Officer Gerald Goines, who is accused of lying in an affidavit used to obtain the search warrant used in the raid, had no bearing on the actions of the other officers involved in the raid. He said the officers were simply there to do their job.

Griffith said the charges against most of the officers were related to what he described as “irregularities” in their timesheets. He called those charges an overreach by prosecutors.

“It is nothing more than TV justice at it’s best, for her to go out and charge our officers,” Griffith said.

Griffith said he hopes that the officers will get their days in court soon and he looks forward to the outcome.

“We’re going to support our officers,” Griffith said.

You can watch a replay of Griffith’s news conference below:

The president of the Houston Police Officers' Union discusses charges being filed in the Harding Street case.
The president of the Houston Police Officers' Union discusses charges being filed in the Harding Street case.

Ogg responds

Ogg said in a written statement that a grand jury made the determination to charge Gallegos. Her full statement is below:

“Dennis Tuttle and Regina Nicholas were shot to death by a squad of narcotics cops engaged in a long-running overtime theft scheme. A grand jury made of up ordinary citizens determined that Officer Felipe Gallegos is not in fact a hero, but a murderer, just like a different grand jury did, when they indicted former Officer Gerald Goines for the Felony Murder of both victims. With two police officers now charged with murder, Houstonians are finally getting the truth about what really happened on Harding St.”


About the Author:

Aaron Barker has been a senior digital editor at KPRC 2 since 2016. As a meteorologist, he specializes in stories about the weather. He has covered Hurricane Harvey, the Astros first World Series win, the Santa Fe High School shooting, the ITC fire and Tropical Storm Imelda.