A federal grand jury heard Wednesday from two Houston police officers who had responded to a call at a house that was later the site of a botched drug raid that left two homeowners dead, the Houston Chronicle reported.
The newspaper noted this is the first sign that federal prosecutors are pursuing criminal charges in the case. Ken Magidson, a former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Texas, told the Chronicle the existence of the grand jury shows the seriousness of the matter.
“It wouldn’t be brought before a grand jury unless people felt there was sufficient information to believe an indictment is a possibility,” he said.
Magidson told the newspaper that the neither of the two narcotics officers most closely involved in the botched raid – case agent Gerald Goines and his partner, Steven Bryant, both of whom have since retired – appeared before the grand jury on Wednesday.
Investigators are questioning whether Goines lied about a confidential drug purchase he used to justify a search warrant for the home on Harding Street in southeast Houston. A firefight started as soon as officers broke down the door during the Jan. 28 raid. Dennis Tuttle and his wife, Rhogena Nicholas, were killed and five officers, including Goines, were injured.
The raid was conducted in search of heroin dealers, but the Chronicle reported that the bust only turned up small amounts of cocaine and marijuana.
The Houston Police Department said it has finished its internal investigation, but wouldn’t release those findings to the newspaper. The family members of Tuttle and Nicholas have hired their own investigators and plan to release their findings to the media on Thursday.