Houston Police Chief vows to end no-knock raids

“The no-knock warrants are going to go away like leaded gasoline in this city.”

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Image Credit: Sreenshot from Houston Chronicle

In response to a recent no-knock police raid in which two suspects were killed and several officers wounded, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo stated during a contentious town hall meeting that he would end the use of no-knock warrant searches. Chief Acevedo told the crowd, “The no-knock warrants are going to go away like leaded gasoline in this city.”

On January 28, Houston police officers executed a no-knock warrant that resulted in the deaths of Dennis Tuttle, 59, and Rhogena Nicholas, 58. Several officers were shot and wounded as result of the raid.

According to Chief Acevedo, Narcotics Officer Gerald Goines claimed that a confidential informant had recently purchased heroin from the residence. But investigators have been unable to locate Officer Goines’ informant, all of Goines’ confidential informants told investigators that they were not involved in this case, and although marijuana and cocaine were found at the residence, no heroin was located.

“The family was murdered,” Eileen De Los Santos, a longtime friend of those killed in the raid, said during the recent town hall meeting. “I would like for someone to use the word ‘murdered,’ because they were murdered.”

“I’m 99.9 percent sure we won’t be using them,” Chief Acevedo said, referring to no-knock warrants. “If for some reason there would be a specific case, that would come from my office.”

Acevedo added, “I’m very confident we’re going to have criminal charges on one or more of the officers.”

The police chief also announced a new policy for undercover officers to wear body cameras during raids.

Just past midnight on May 16, 2010, a Detroit SWAT team tossed a flashbang grenade into the living room where 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones had been sleeping on the couch. As the flashbang incinerated her blanket, Aiyana was immediately shot in the head by Officer Joseph Weekley. Weekley claimed that Aiyana’s grandmother had reached for his weapon, but ballistics and another officer’s testimony refute his accusations. Police later realized they had forcibly entered the wrong apartment. The suspect, Chauncey Owens, lived in a room upstairs.

Around 2 a.m. on May 28, 2014, a Habersham SWAT team raided an innocent family’s home and threw a flashbang grenade into their bedroom. The grenade landed in the crib of 18-month-old Bounkham Phonesavanh Jr., blowing a hole through his chest and leaving third-degree burns along his face and torso.

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