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Houston police chief says investigator lied in affidavit leading to deadly drug raid

Houston -- Houston's police chief says a lead investigator lied in an affidavit justifying a drug raid on a home which ended with two residents killed and four officers wounded in a gun battle. The officer is expected to face charges.

Chief Art Acevedo said during a news conference Friday that the investigator falsely claimed in the affidavit, which was leaked to the media, that a confidential informant obtained heroin from the home. Police records indicate the heroin was actually obtained elsewhere.

Two residents of the home, 59-year-old Dennis Tuttle and 58-year-old Rhogena Nicholas, were killed.

The investigator was one of the officers shot in the gunfight Jan. 28. He remained hospitalized Friday. Officials said he has been with the department for more than 30 years. 

In the hours after the deadly raid, Acevedo praised the investigator as being "tough as nails," but he said Friday that there's a "high probability that there will be a criminal charge" brought against him.

After the raid, police said they found several firearms at the home, along with marijuana and cocaine but no heroin. Acevedo insisted Friday that investigators did have reason to investigate the home and were not there "willy nilly." Authorities still believe Tuttle and Nicholas were involved in criminal activity, but Acevedo said the case now is undermined. 

He said lying in a sworn affidavit is "totally unacceptable."

"From day one, when I joined this department, I told my people that  if you lie, you die," Acevedo said.

The leaked affidavit — which had been sealed under a court order — revealed that when police started looking into the investigator's account, it started to unravel. Still hospitalized with a gunshot wound, the investigator wrote down the name of the confidential informant for another officer investigating questions around the drug raid. 

When Houston police contacted the informant, he said he had worked with the investigator on narcotics cases in the past, but not the one that led to the deadly shootout. The informant also said the investigator had paid him in the past even when he didn't do any work.

Officers holding photos of Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas, who were killed during a drug raid in Houston on Jan. 28, 2019. KHOU

Police then went back to the investigator, who gave them the name of another confidential informant. When police contacted the second informant, he said the investigator had asked him to do a drug buy, but at a different location. The informant didn't recognize the home where the deadly raid occurred or the two residents who were killed, according to the affidavit. Police  then contacted all of the confidential informants who had worked with the investigator, and all of them said they had never bought drugs from Tuttle or Nicholas, according to the affidavit.

Acevedo said Friday that authorities must determine whether other cases involving the officer may be compromised based on his actions and pledged to "report back the good, the bad and the ugly."

"We owe it to the suspects killed, we owe it to the officers shot that were there having full faith and trust in that affidavit - one that's still in the hospital with a very serious gunshot wound — and we owe it to the community and to the good working men and women of the Houston Police Department to make sure that we see not just what's in front of us but to have a very wide net," Acevedo said.

The officer has been suspended, along with another officer involved in the raid who was previously suspended.

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