Houston police officer sees murder charges dismissed in 2019 botched raid -- but could face new indictment

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said the charge was dismissed due to the conduct of a former prosecutor who handled the case

A murder charge has been dismissed against a Houston police officer who had been linked to a deadly 2019 botched raid in the city that left two homeowners dead, prosecutors said Tuesday. 

Officer Felipe Gallegos will not face a trial due to the conduct of a former prosecutor who handled the case, according to Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg. The evidence can be presented to a new grand jury to determine if an indictment is warranted, the DA said. 

"The conduct of a former prosecutor, who handled the case, raised concerns about his judgment and resulted in his termination from the office," Ogg said. "Out of duty and an abundance of caution, all evidence in the shooting will be re-reviewed by a different prosecutor ... and re-presented to a grand jury."

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Gallegos will have the option of having his version of the facts presented to grand jurors and testifying -- should he choose to do so.  The DA’s office has not identified the prosecutor who was terminated.

"People’s lives hang in the balance of every decision that we make, and it is incumbent upon me as District Attorney to have this situation re-reviewed to ensure justice in this case, as in every case," Ogg added.

During the January raid, narcotics officers used a no-knock warrant to enter the home on Harding Street looking for drugs, according to the Houston Chronicle. Gunfire erupted, ending with the deaths of the homeowners Rhogena Nicholas, 58, and Dennis Tuttle, 59. 

Police investigate the scene on on Harding Street in Houston, Jan. 28, 2019. (Associated Press)

Police investigate the scene on on Harding Street in Houston, Jan. 28, 2019. (Associated Press)

Gallegos, who was charged with the murder of Tuttle, remains charged with engaging in organized criminal activity, as do nine former members of the Houston Police Department Narcotics Division, Squad 15.

Gerald Goines, a veteran narcotics officer and the leader of the raid, is still charged with multiple counts, including murder.

Prosecutors alleged Goines lied to obtain the search warrant by claiming a confidential informant had bought heroin there. They alleged that Goines later said there was no informant and he had bought the drugs himself. Police found small amounts of marijuana and cocaine in the house, but no heroin.

After the charge was dismissed, Gallegos’ attorney, Rusty Hardin told KPRC-TV he was "absolutely delighted."

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"From the very beginning, we have complained the indicting grand jury did not hear all the evidence, if this is done fairly there is no way a grand jury will indict," Hardin said. "This man was a hero. I think this is the beginning of the death nail of these charges. I am confident when this is all over Flip will be vindicated in every respect."

Boyd Smith, the Tuttle family attorney, called the decision a "gut punch," according to the Chronicle. 

"The Tuttle family respects Kim Ogg’s effort to prosecute those who are responsible for murdering Dennis Tuttle but to have that process delayed because of the behavior of a single prosecutor is more than disappointing-it hurts," Smith said. "What seems to be lost here is any focus on what this family has gone through, what they continue to go through…"

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said he respected Ogg's decision, according to a tweet from the department. 

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"I hope that everyone involved in the Harding Street investigation - and the Tuttle and Nicholas families - is treated fairly, and justice is served for everyone," Finner said. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.