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Thu May 16, 2019, 11:32 AM

Forensic Experts Find 'No Evidence' That Houston Narcs Who Killed Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas

The physical evidence at the scene seems inconsistent with the story told by the officers who conducted the no-knock drug raid.

The Houston narcotics officers who invaded a middle-aged couple's home on January 28, serving a no-knock drug warrant based on a fraudulent affidavit, claimed they killed Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas in self-defense. A recent forensic inspection of the house, commissioned by the couple's relatives, casts doubt on that account and reinforces the suspicion that at least some of the four officers who suffered bullet wounds were shot by their colleagues.

According to the cops who served the warrant, which was based on a "controlled buy" of heroin that apparently never happened and authorized a search that found no evidence of drug dealing, Tuttle began shooting at them with a .357 Magnum revolver immediately after the first officer through the door used a shotgun to kill a dog that confronted him as he entered the house. They say the officer with the shotgun collapsed on a couch after a round from Tuttle's gun struck him, at which point Nicholas moved to disarm him, prompting the cops to shoot her twice. Tuttle continued firing, we are told, until he died in a hail of bullets that struck him at least eight times.

Even taking this account at face value, the officers started the gunfight by breaking into the house without warning and shooting the dog, a reckless entry that invited confusion. It is not clear that Tuttle knew the armed intruders, who were not wearing uniforms and did not announce themselves before storming into the house, were police officers. Nor is there any body camera footage of the raid that might shed light on that question.

But there is physical evidence at the house, which seems inconsistent with the story told by the narcotics officers. Houston Chronicle reporters Keri Blakinger and St. John Barned-Smith say a forensics team that the Tuttle and Nicholas families hired, headed by Mike Maloney, a retired supervisory special agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, "found no indication that any of the guns Tuttle owned were fired toward the front of the house at incoming police."


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