A planned hearing in which attorneys for a woman killed in a drug raid were to seek more information has been delayed.

A scheduled 1:30 p.m. hearing in Harris County probate court over information on the Harding Street Raid killings was postoned after the City of Houston sought to remove the case to federal court. According to the legal team for Rhogena Nicholas, who was killed in the raid, the federal court indicated that it would not rule before the probate court hearing was to have taken.

Lawyers were seeking more information on the Jan. 28. 2019 operation.

Attorneys Michael Doyle and Charles Bourque planned to introduce new findings from the ongoing investigation and present witness testimony from a family member, from expert witnesses and from a representative of the Houston Police Department. Doyle and Bourque represent the relatives of Rhogena Nicholas, killed along with her husband, Dennis Tuttle, when police raided her home on Harding Street early last year.

Police subsequently announced the case agent who led the raid, Gerald Goines, lied about key facts upon which the operation was based — including claims he’d bought drugs from the home.

The hearing wasto be held in probate court because of the court’s jurisdiction over wrongful death cases, and came after previous efforts by city officials to stop the probate court from proceeding with the Nicholas family’s petition to investigate the incident.

Attorneys for Nicholas’ relatives said they were ready to move forward with the case and called for greater transparency from city leaders.

“From the beginning, the city’s story about the incident has never made sense. It’s time for the cover-up to end,” Doyle said, “So we ask the mayor and police chief again: What is the city so desperate to hide? The family and the citizens of Houston deserve to know what HPD did before, during and after the unjustified attack on Rhogena in her home.”

Doyle’s co-counsel Bourque said the “continued silence” of Mayor Sylvester Turner and Chief Art Acevedo raise troubling questions, particularly given their public stances on the need for police reform.

“Beyond that, the police chief himself was at the Harding Street scene during the incident,” Bourque said. “Yet the city is fighting to keep secret the ugly truth of this incident and the narcotics unit.”

The attorneys are seeking permission from the court to depose HPD supervisors who oversaw Squad 15, the street-level narcotics team that raided Rhogena’s home. Lawyers are seeking to depose HPD Commader Paul Q. Follis and HPD Lt. Marsha Todd.

st.john.smith@chron.com



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