Investigator says homeowner killed in drug raid was shot in the back

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A forensics expert hired by the relatives of a man shot in his home during a botched drug raid by Houston police in January determined he was shot in the back, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Investigator Mike Maloney said Wednesday that Dennis Tuttle was shot three or four times in the back during the raid, probably while retreating to the rear of his house on Harding Street in Houston after initially being shot by officers near the front of the home.

At least one shot traveled up his body, through his chest and lodged in his head, probably inflicted while he was lying on the ground, Maloney said.

Tuttle and his wife, Rhogena Nicholas, were shot and killed by officers who raided the house looking for drugs. Officers entered the home without knocking, expecting to find a heroin den. Instead, they uncovered small amounts of cocaine and marijuana.

Maloney initially released some findings in July that suggested police may have fired into the house without being able to see inside of it and questioned if Tuttle ever fired back. He said Wednesday that his examination suggests that officers may have been at the doorway and were able to see inside the house when they fired the rounds that killed Tuttle, the Chronicle reported.  

Attorney Mike Doyle, who is representing the Nicholas family as it plans a lawsuit, said the evidence uncovered by Maloney contradicts what Houston police are reporting.

“There’s every indication that the story they gave about what happened is not true,” he told the newspaper. “Everybody is ignoring what happened at the scene, because they don’t have this.”

Police Chief Art Acevedo would not comment due to the pending investigation, but Houston Police Officers’ President Joe Gamaldi said he believes what police investigators are saying.

“I would trust a report from the Houston Forensic Science Center, the Texas Rangers or the Houston Police Department,” Gamaldi told the Chronicle, “not a report from a private entity that is hired by future plaintiffs.”

Officer Gerald Goines is accused of lying to get the warrant for the raid and was later charged with felony murder in the case. His partner, Houston Police Officer Steven Bryant, faces a charge of tampering with a government record.

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