DA Threatens to Subpoena Police for Names of Informants Behind Deadly Harding Street Drug Raid

By Keri Blakinger & St John Barned-Smith, Houston Chronicle

Crime scene tape is shown in the yard of home at 7815 Harding Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019 where five Houston Police Officers were shot in a gun battle while serving a search warrant on Monday. Police identified the two suspects who died as Rhogena Nicholas, 58, and Dennis Tuttle, 59. Photo: Melissa Phillip, Staff photographer / Houston Chronicle.

Crime scene tape is shown in the yard of home at 7815 Harding Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019 where five Houston Police Officers were shot in a gun battle while serving a search warrant on Monday. Police identified the two suspects who died as Rhogena Nicholas, 58, and Dennis Tuttle, 59. Photo: Melissa Phillip, Staff photographer / Houston Chronicle.

The Harris County District Attorney's Office are threatening to subpoena the Houston Police Department for not turning over details about confidential informants used in the botched Harding Street drug raid in January that left two people dead and netted few narcotics.

After police apparently failed to fulfill a previous request for the information in May, prosecutor Natasha Sinclair on Thursday penned the one-page letter demanding the department turn over a trove of information relating to the bust, including the identities of the informants, the names of those who signed off on informant payments and the locations of the alleged buys.

"As you know, it has been more than six weeks since we requested this material in preparation for possible presentation to a grand jury," wrote Sinclair, who heads up the district attorney's civil rights division. "We have yet to receive confidential informant information on the specific incident reports requested."

The request comes nearly five months after police burst through the front door of 7815 Harding Street during a no-knock raid, kicking off a shoot-out that ended in the deaths of Rhogena Nicholas and her husband Dennis Tuttle.

Initially police said they raided the Pecan Park home in search of heroin dealers, but a later investigation raised questions about whether the alleged informant whose drug buy justified the raid ever really existed. And the raid itself only turned up a small amount of cocaine and marijuana - but none of the heroin police expected to find.

Those revelations sparked a series of investigations, including an internal police probe and an FBI review of the case. Meanwhile, the case agent at the center of the raid - Sgt. Gerald Goines - retired under investigation, as did his partner Steven Bryant. And prosecutors announced a review of more than 2,000 cases previously handled by the two ousted narcotics officers.

In May, police completed their investigation into the raid, and turned the results over to district attorney's office. But it now appears prosecutors have hit a roadblock in their investigation.

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Olivia McDowellComment