Houston, TX — Four Houston police officers were shot on Monday during a drug raid on an alleged heroin dealer's home. Luckily, the officers are all expected to survive. Now, neighbors who knew the slain couple that lived in the house are speaking out and the picture they paint is drastically different than the official story.
According to the official police account, on Monday afternoon, around 5:00 pm, a dozen SWAT team members with Houston's narcotics department, along with six other patrol officers descended on a Pecan Park home to serve a search warrant. According to police, a tip from a neighbor led to an investigation in which black tar heroin was allegedly purchased from the couple's home and the search warrant was executed on Monday.
As police entered the home, they claim one of the suspects, Dennis Tuttle, opened fire and 4 of the officers were shot. Another officer injured his knee during the raid, but was not shot. Police then said that Tuttle's wife of 22 years, Rhogena Nicholas-Tuttle attempted to grab one of the officer's guns and she was killed as well.
This sounds like an open and shut case of a drug raid turned violent when the dealers fought back. But if we look a little closer, a seemingly different story emerges.
Something Art Acevedo did not say is that the officers who entered the home were in plain clothes—not uniforms.
What's more, upon entering the house, they immediately began shooting as one officer killed the couple's dog. That's when Tuttle came out of the back room with his .357 handgun and opened fire.
Even more suspicious is the fact that these alleged black tar heroin dealers—had no heroin. The only thing police alleged to have found was a small bit of marijuana and a white powdery substance. Police also said they found several guns, which all happened to be entirely legal.
Robert Antu, who lived across the street from the couple—for the last 30 years—considered the couple dear friends. He told Click2Houston that Tuttle would have never fired on a police officer.
"If he would have known it was police, he would have never shot," Antu said. "No way. He obeyed the law. I tell you, he was a straight-up guy."
Another neighbor, Esmerelda Becerra—who battled cancer alongside Nicholas—backs up Antu's statements and said this loving couple would have never hurt anyone.
"Do you know how I felt?" said Becerra, crying. "There's no more tears in me. I went over there to go leave flowers. I almost fainted."
“I still can’t stop crying!!! And yes they where (sic) GOOD PEOPLE!!!” wrote one woman who knew them on Facebook.
According to Tuttle's sister, Tuttle was also a disabled veteran.
"Released on honorable discharged medical," Tuttle's sister, Elizabeth Ferrari said. "He had debilitating injuries for many years and it's a sad situation."
“I don’t buy it all,” Ferrari said of the official police story. “Not one hot minute.”
Nicholas-Tuttle was also a big time supporter of police, who liked the All Lives Matter page on Facebook as well as her local law enforcement—definitely not the typical habit of a black tar heroin dealer.
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Every neighbor who lived by the couple gave similar testimonies making the claim that neighbors reported them as drug dealers hold even less water.
"They didn't deal drugs from out of that house," said one neighbor, who grew up with Tuttle and his wife. "They're not those type of people."
Indeed, they are not. When asked if the couple had any criminal history, Acevedo refused to answer the question noting that it was "part of the investigation."
"We're not going to talk about their criminal histories," Acevedo said. "That's part of the investigation."
However, Click2Houston pulled their criminal record—and it's non-existent. According to their report:
Court records showed that Tuttle had no criminal history in Harris County.
Nicholas was charged with theft by check in January 2010, according to court records. That case was dismissed about a month later after Nicholas paid $145 in restitution.
State and national searches returned no criminal history for the couple.
Married couples, who own their own home, have no criminal record, one of whom is an honorable discharged disabled veteran, and who are best friends with their neighbors, do not fit the typical profile of heroin dealers.
While it is entirely possible that this couple was dealing heroin, there is an equally likely alternative scenario that could've unfolded like this: police acted on bad information from an unreliable informant—which happens all the time—and then raided the home.
When the couple saw four plainclothes officers in their home—who immediately came in and shot their dog—they likely went into fight or flight mode. Tuttle opened fire, likely thinking he was the subject of a home invasion and Nicholas may have tried to disarm one of the intruders who she thought was trying to kill her.
The fact of the matter is that botched raids happen all the time. As TFTP has reported, there are countless examples of police acting on bad information, going to the wrong house, or responding to bad anonymous tips. All too often, these innocent people are shot, arrested, or even killed and they never committed a crime.
In this couple's case, the "investigation" of their deaths is now being conducted by the very people who killed them. There is likely no chance of police flipping the narrative and revealing they were in the wrong.
What's more, because these undercover cops were in plainclothes, there is no body camera footage to tell what actually happened. And, since both of the suspects are now dead, they cannot refute the official story.
The four cops getting shot during this raid is tragic. However, if this couple was innocent and was merely defending their home from armed invaders, this is a tragedy of epic proportions.