The city of Houston was recently hit with two lawsuits over a botched police operation.
The City of Houston and its law enforcement agency were recently hit by two lawsuits filed by the families of a woman and a man who were “killed in a botched police raid”. According to the lawsuit filed on Wednesday, “Rhogena Nicholas and her husband Dennis Tuttle were killed along with their dog when a tactical team raided their home on January 28, 2019.” The raid came after an official “alleged a criminal informant bought heroin from a man in Tuttle and Nicholas’ house”. The officer went on to claim that the Tuttle had a gun.
Grayscale image of a person pointing a gun at the viewer; Image by Max Kleinen via Unsplash.com.
Four officers were shot dead during the raid and one was paralyzed. An investigation into the matter has opened and 12 officers have been charged. One of these officers was Gerald Goines. Goines was “accused of lying to get an arrest warrant”. Steven Bryant was also charged with tampering with government records. The officers are all “exposed to a wide variety of charges, including murder, manipulation of government documents and involvement in organized criminal activities”.
When filing the lawsuit, the families said Tuttle and Nicholas were not involved in drug sales. Indeed, the “couple was known and loved by their neighbors.”
Mike Doyle is representing the Nicholas family. He said the family chose to file the lawsuit because the statute of limitations was almost up, adding the family had “asked for the physical evidence, explanation and apology from Acevedo for 18 months.” The family’s lawsuit “names the city of Houston, Police Chief Art Acevedo and 13 officers as defendants,” and includes “federal civil rights claims against individual officers for excessive lethal force and unlawful search and seizure, plus a city liability claim against the city and Acevedo on state legal claims, including unjustified death and survival. “Doyle said:
“You have been put in a position where the only way we can get to the bottom of, or the best, of what is really going on and on in this city and at this police department, is by filing a civil lawsuit. ”
Commenting on the suit, when John Nicholas, the brother of Rhogena Nicholas, said death was particularly difficult for his mother, who is 86 years old and who survived COVID-19. He said, “The hardest thing I think is for my mother. She still wants to know exactly what happened. “
The Tuttle Estate lawsuit named the city and 13 officials as defendants. The property claims “unlawful search and seizure, excessive and lethal violence, and communal liability”. Boyd Smith represents the Tuttle family. When discussing the suit, he said:
“We tried to answer their questions to this family for two years and the city blocked us every step of the way. If Dennis shot officials, it was because, as a law abiding citizen with no heroin in his home, he thought his home was attacked by criminals. He had the right to fight back when that happened. “
When asked about the incident and the allegations, Police Chief Acevedo said he was “discouraged that the charges against the officers went on for so long”. He added:
“I have said many times that the other officers involved in the incident … were not involved in obtaining the warrant and responded appropriately to the deadly threat they posed while on duty.”
Mayor Sylvester Turner intervened, saying the “robbery was a case with many subtleties.” He added:
“There are a lot of complexities and I think you have to be very careful before reaching any conclusions … At the end of the day, we’ll see where the facts land.”
Families of married couples killed in a botched lawsuit brought by the Houston City and Police Department
Families of Texas couple in drug raid sued city, police officers killed