Federal Judge Refuses to Dismiss Botched Raid Lawsuit
A federal judge has blocked efforts by the City of Houston to dismiss a lawsuit related to a botched raid. According to the plaintiffs’ attorney, this is the fifth time that federal courts have rebuffed the city’s attempt to get the lawsuit tossed. Their most recent effort involved naming themselves a “federal actor” because federal charges were pending against the victims.
The families of the victims want access to records from the Houston Police Department, which they have been unwilling to turn over thus far. The plaintiffs say that there is a cover-up underway.
Botched Raid Results in Criminal Charges
The raid was based on what plaintiffs’ attorneys describe as a “fabricated warrant”. It has resulted in federal criminal charges against several HPD officers including narcotics officer Gerald Goines who has been charged with the murder of both Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas. Other officers have been charged with evidence tampering and impeding an investigation. Several Houston police officers were injured in the raid. It is unclear whether Goines will be charged with their injuries as well.
What we do know thus far is that the City of Houston and federal investigators believe that Goines lied on the affidavit used to secure the warrant, fabricating a drug buy that never happened. The police department was able to use this lie to secure a no-knock raid of Tuttle and Nicholas’ home. While the early news reports said that a “neighbor” turned the couple in for selling drugs, other neighbors, perhaps real neighbors, say that the couple kept to themselves and they never saw any indication that the couple was involved in drugs. The couple was white at the time of the shooting.
When police burst through the door having gotten a no-knock warrant based on fabricated evidence, the couple apparently fired back, and effectively too. Four police officers were injured in the hailstorm of bullets that ensued and the couple was killed.
This resulted in an investigation into the quality of evidence that led to the issuing of the no-knock warrant. Shortly after that investigation, Goines was relieved of duty. He now faces two counts of felony murder, which should stick and the couple’s family has filed a lawsuit against HPD.
Lawsuits Against Police Officers in Texas
Filing lawsuits against government employees who cause injury in the performance of their duty is impossible. But here, you have a police officer who broke the law. The families will be entitled to recover minimal damages that are capped by sovereign immunity, but the real payoff may be seeing the officers who murdered their loved ones behind bars on a double homicide charge. The legislature, in some cases, can also allow victims to receive larger settlements. What’s clear is that the City of Houston will no longer be able to hide behind the veneer of legitimate authority as the federal courts have stripped them of that power.
Call a Houston Personal Injury Lawyer Today
Texas has strict sovereign immunity laws, but you can still recover damages if you are injured by a federal employee. Call the Houston personal injury attorneys at Livingston & Flowers today to learn more about how we can help.