Cop’s murder charge dropped over concern about ex-prosecutor

Aug 17, 2021, 6:07 AM | Updated: 7:07 pm

HOUSTON (AP) — Prosecutors dropped a murder count, for now, against a Houston police officer Tuesday who was charged for his role in a fraudulent 2019 drug raid that left two homeowners dead.

Officer Felipe Gallegos had been charged with murdering Dennis Tuttle during the January 2019 raid, the warrant for which prosecutors say now-former Officer Gerald Goines lied to obtain. Goines is still charged with multiple counts, including murder, for the raid that left Tuttle, 59, and Rhogena Nicholas, 58, dead.

“The conduct of a former prosecutor, who handled the case, raised concerns about his judgment and resulted in his termination from the office,” said Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg in a statement. “Out of duty and an abundance of caution, all evidence in the shooting will be re-reviewed by a different prosecutor… and re-presented to a grand jury.

Ogg did not identify the former prosecutor or elaborate on his conduct but said Gallegos would be allowed to testify before the grand jury.

“People’s lives hang in the balance of every decision that we make, and it is incumbent upon me as District Attorney to have this situation re-reviewed to ensure justice in this case, as in every case,” she said.

A message to Rusty Hardin, Gallegos’ attorney, was not immediately returned.

Goines and Gallegos were among a dozen current and former officers tied to the narcotics unit that conducted the drug raid who have been indicted in state and federal court in the wake of the shootings.

Prosecutors have alleged Goines lied to obtain the search warrant by claiming a confidential informant had bought heroin there. They allege that Goines later said there was no informant and he had bought the drugs himself. Police found small amounts of marijuana and cocaine in the house, but no heroin.

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Cop’s murder charge dropped over concern about ex-prosecutor