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‘Sloppy’ Probe Cited in Botched Houston Drug Raid

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A four-day independent forensics review at the scene of a botched drug raid in Houston found a cache of evidence left behind by the city’s crime scene teams after the police action left dead a couple suspected of selling drugs, reports the Houston Chronicle. Just inside the front door, two teeth sit in a dried puddle of blood. Bullets never were removed from the walls and floor. In the dining room, a shot-up man’s shirt lies in a heap on the floor, the evidence tag attached. Blood spatter speckles the walls, sofas and stray boxes.

Hired by relatives of Rhogena Nicholas and Dennis Tuttle, the forensics team found no signs the pair fired shots at police, and many signs that previous investigators overlooked dozens of pieces of potential evidence in what one expert called a “sloppy” investigation. The Houston Police Department says undercover narcotics officers burst in the front door of the home on Jan. 28 and opened fire as soon as a pit bull lunged at them. Hearing the gunshot, Tuttle came running out from the back of the house and started shooting at the officers, striking an officer. The wounded lawman fell on the couch near Nicholas, who allegedly made a move for his weapon. A back-up officer killed her. The shoot-out continued, and five officers were injured. Though the raid was intended to target heroin dealers, authorities said they only turned up 18 grams of marijuana and 1.5 grams of cocaine — user-level amounts.

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