Say That Again
Four Houston police officers were shot -- allegedly by now-dead suspects -- while serving a no-knock warrant on a Houston residence. The no-knock warrant was supposed to make everything safer for the officers, giving them a chance to get a jump on the suspects and prevent the destruction of evidence/officers. But as anyone other than cops seems to comprehend, startling people in their own homes with explosives and kicked-in doors tends to make everything more dangerous for everyone.
Operating on a tip that from someone claiming to have purchased heroin from the home of Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas, the Houston PD SWAT team secured a no-knock warrant and kicked in the door roughly five hours later. No heroin was found. Some guns and an apparently small amount of cocaine and marijuana were recovered. According to cops, the 59-year-old Tuttle opened fire on officers and his wife tried to take a shotgun from a downed officer, resulting in her being killed as well. The married couple are now dead, having amassed a combined 21 years of marriage and a single criminal charge -- a misdemeanor bad check charge -- between them before this raid ended their lives.
The cops have vouched for the reliability of their confidential informant despite there being a huge discrepancy between what the CI told them and what was actually found in the house.
According to the affidavit, the informant said he bought the powder from the middle-aged man, who called it “boy,” a street name for heroin. The informant also said that the man carried a gun, and that there was more of the brown powder at the house, “packaged in a large quantity of plastic baggies.” The author of the affidavit wrote that the informant had “proven to be credible and reliable on many prior occasions” and he asked a municipal court judge “to enter the suspected place and premises without first knocking and announcing the presence and purpose of the officers executing the warrant.”
The dead couple cannot provide a narrative, so the one we're stuck with comes from the Houston PD.
“Once the officers breached the door and the gunfire began from the suspects, one of the suspects actually retreated momentarily to the back of the room and then that suspect came back and again engaged the officers in gunfire,” Acevedo said at a Monday evening news conference.
Maybe some footage survived the shootout...
[Chief Acevedo] said none of the officers was wearing a body camera.
It's not that the Houston PD doesn't have cameras. It's just that officers wear them when they want to and activate them only when they want to. It appears no one in the department has stepped up to hold officers accountable for failing to follow policy. So, only one story survives this shooting: the PD's account.
There might have been a second version covering some of the raid, but the PD took care of that as well.
[K]HOU, the CBS affiliate in Houston, reports that the house had no security cameras, although "a house next door to the Tuttles' home does have surveillance video," and "police took that footage for evidence."
As is to be expected, this deadly raid has led to criticism of the police department and its tactics. It started with a CI tip about an illegal substance that wasn't found during the search and ended with four cops wounded and two people with no criminal history shot dead in the home they had lived in for twenty years.
The criticism is well-earned. But the head of the city's police union believes the police have done no wrong -- not in this case and possibly not ever.
Houston Police Department Union president Joe Gamaldi went a step further, calling out people who criticize the police. “We are sick and tired of having targets on our back,” Gamaldi said at a press conference on Monday night outside of the hospital where the injured officers were being treated. (All four survived their injuries.) “We are sick and tired of having dirtbags trying to take our lives when all we’re trying to do is protect this community and protect our families. Enough is enough. If you’re the ones out there spreading the rhetoric that police officers are the enemy, well just know we’ve all got your number now. We’re going to be keeping track on all of y’all, and we’re going to make sure to hold you accountable every time you stir the pot on our police officers.”
This statement says a lot about the mindset of law enforcement. Officers appear to believe that because they do a job few people want to, they shouldn't be criticized for how they do it.
But the statement says something much more worrying about how police officers and their representation respond to criticism. Gamaldi's statement suggests the Houston PD will be keeping tabs on its critics. He's basically saying the government agency employing the people he represents is willing to retaliate against protected speech. That's not something the Houston PD can do (at least not legally) and it's something it shouldn't do, even if some officers feel they might be able to get away with it. If the PD is willing to violate the Constitution when it's publicly criticized, it's probably willing to do it during its more private ventures. Ultimately, this statement says more about the PD than its critics, and what it does say is pretty ugly.
Filed Under: dennis tuttle, houston, houston pd, houston police, joe gamaldi, no knock, no knock raid, police, police killings, rhogena nicholas, swat, warrants