HOUSTON – The families of Rhogena Nicholas and Dennis Tuttle said Thursday they are still fighting for answers as to exactly what happened during the botched Harding Street police raid two years ago. Their fight is now in federal court in the form of a lawsuit.
Nicholas, Tuttle and their dog were killed Jan. 28, 2019, when police stormed their home.
“There remains so many questions unanswered, so many facts that have been concealed and continue to be concealed,” said attorney Mike Doyle. “The answers that they refuse to give to the basic facts about what happened before, during and, probably most important, after the attack by this squad.”
Nicholas’ brother, John. said the entire ordeal has been particularly hard on their 86-year-old mother.
“I’m sitting there with my momma and tears come into her eyes saying, ‘She wasn’t a scumbag.’” said John Nicholas. “She says, ‘It’s been two years now. Are they going to ever tell us what happened?’”
The family and their attorney argue problems at the Houston Police Department go far deeper than the 12 current and former officers charged as part of this investigation. Former Officer Gerald Goines is accused of using bogus information to get the warrant that led to the raid. Other officers are accused of tampering with evidence and stealing overtime. This week, Officer Felipe Gallegos was charged with murder for his role in the raid. Gallegos claims he was defending himself and fellow officers by returning fire.
The federal lawsuit also accuses HPD of allowing problem officers to go unchecked through a lack of proper oversight.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner also defended HPD, saying the actions of a few should not taint the many.
“I think you have to be very careful before you draw any conclusions, so allow the process to run its course,” said Turner.
Many civil rights and police reform activists said what happened on Harding Street further highlights the need for outside oversight.
“This is the reason we need a civilian investigative board with subpoena power,” said civil rights activist and retired HPD Sgt. Shelby Stewart.
You can watch a replay of a news conference held by the family Thursday below: