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HOUSTON (AP) — A grand jury has indicted two former Houston police officers — including one who is facing murder counts — for their roles in a deadly January 2019 drug raid that killed a couple, prosecutors announced Wednesday.
The indictments follow similar charges that were filed in August by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.
Ex-officer Gerald Goines was indicted on two counts of felony murder.
The grand jury also indicted Goines and his former partner, Steven Bryant, on charges of tampering with a government record.
The Jan. 28, 2019, raid came under scrutiny after police alleged Goines, 55, who was shot during the raid, lied in a search warrant that a confidential informant had bought heroin at the home. Goines later acknowledged there was no informant and that he bought the drugs himself, authorities said.
Bryant, 46, is accused of providing false information in a report after the raid that supported Goines' story about a confidential informant.
Killed in the shooting were 58-year-old Rhogena Nicholas and 59-year-old Dennis Tuttle. Their family and friends have continuously dismissed allegations that the couple sold drugs. Police found small amounts of marijuana and cocaine in the home but no heroin. During the raid, four officers were shot and wounded, and a fifth injured his knee.
Goines’ attorney, Nicole DeBorde, was critical of the prosecution's decision to file charges first without sending the case to a grand jury.
“Only the prosecutors who brought the charges are allowed to go in to the grand jury and it is not a surprise that the grand jury stamped off on the charges the DA originally brought. We look forward to our day in court," DeBorde said.
Andy Drumheller, an attorney for Bryant, said grand jurors only heard from prosecutors and “we have always believed this matter will be resolved in a courtroom where both sides to a dispute can be heard."
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said the indictments concluded the first phase of her office’s investigation.
Two other grand juries are expected to continue investigating over the next six months to determine if charges will be filed against any other officers involved in the raid, as well as possible additional charges against Goines and Bryant. Ogg said the actions of all 11 members of the narcotics squad involved in the raid are being reviewed, both in the drug raid and in prior cases.
Since the raid, prosecutors have been reviewing about 14,000 cases handled by the Houston Police Department's narcotics division, including at least more than 2,000 tied to Goines and Bryant.
Goines is also facing accusations that he provided false testimony that led to the wrongful conviction of a man in another drug case from 2008.
“Our charge is to find justice for these victims and all the people of Harris County whose trust has been betrayed by these officers,” Ogg said. “Our officers who are in uniform should not be besmirched, the good work that they do ... by corrupt police officers."
Goines and Bryant are also facing federal charges in connection with the drug raid. Both men were relieved of duty after the shooting and later retired.
Goines faces up to life in prison if convicted of felony murder, while Bryant faces up to two years in jail if convicted of tampering with a government record.
Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter: https://twitter.com/juanlozano70