In Houston, George Floyd, who was a Houston native, was charged with delivering a controlled drug. He died in Minneapolis’ hands 16 years earlier. The case involved a small amount of crack. According to Floyd’s arresting officer, Floyd gave it to another suspect so that he could buy the drug from the cop. Floyd pled guilty to the charges and was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment.
Floyd’s conviction was an sadly frequent example of drug war inequalities and futility. It was only after a raid by Houston narcotics agents killed Dennis Tuttle (middle-aged) and Rhogena Nick (house on Harding Street), that anyone would give it another chance. The operation turned out to be based entirely on lies, with Gerald Goines, a retired narcotics officer, being the one who also arrested Floyd back in 2004. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles recommended this week that Governor. Greg Abbott granted Floyd a posthumous pardon in recognition of Goines’ proven misconduct.
Harris County public defender Allison Mathis submitted a pardon request in April. This is a glimpse into how drug laws encourage police to both arrest individuals for peaceful conduct which violates no rights and also create that conduct completely from scratch. Although drug defendants may claim to have been framed, they often can’t show it. The testimony of officers is presumed honest and committed public servants. Goines has a long record of arresting people for trumped up charges.
Harding Street was raided and found no evidence of Nicholas or Tuttle selling heroin. Goines stated in his search warrant application that he had not seen any evidence. A few months later, Goines revealed that he had created a heroin purchase using a confidential informant. This revelation led to Goines being charged with both federal and state charges, such as tampering and murder. Steven Bryant was a narcotics officers who supported Goines’ false story. He pleaded guilty last June to the federal charge of obstruction of justice through falsifying records. Harding Street’s raid forced the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, which was responsible for reexamining thousands of cases concerning Goines and his Houston Police Department’s Narcotics Division colleagues.
Goines was either the sole witness in more than 160 drug cases or created a search warrant statement. In letters, they suggested to defendants that Goines’ disinformation could challenge their convictions. Otis Mallet (and his brother Steven Mallet) were both declared innocent by the state appeals court.
Otis Mallet had filed a federal case against Goines last August. In it, he maintained that Goines was guilty of him and his brother being involved in a crack deal that never occurred. Goines had “repeatedly denied nearly all aspects” of the alleged transaction, according to the 2008 case prosecutors. Kim Ogg, Harris County District Attorney said that Goines’ failure to testify in Otis Mallet’s innocence hearing proved the whole alleged drug transaction was fraudulent.
Floyd was not notified by the prosecutors of an opportunity to appeal his conviction. They sent it to Houston after Floyd had moved to Minneapolis. He probably didn’t receive it. Mathis describes her case against Floyd in her pardon request. It follows the same pattern as the Harding Street raids and the arrests Otis, Steven Mallet, and others.
Goines claimed that Floyd was found with.03 grams crack cocaine when he was arrested and that Floyd provided the drugs for an unknown’second suspect’, who then sold the drugs on to Goines. Goines claimed that this “second suspect” wasn’t arrested. [sic]To promote narcotics trafficking [sic]” He may have meant to say that this person would make a good informant. We know that this individual was just as fictitious as the one who bought heroin from Tuttle.
Goines stated that an informant had assisted him in Mallet’s case. He claimed the informant, in his May 2008 expense report that “provided information for officers about the fact that narcotics had been stored and sold from the exact location Otis Mallet was arrested.” Goines claimed that Goines paid the informant two hundred dollars for his services. Goines described the crack purchase as a “crack sale” in his arrest report.
Mathis wrote that Goines believed the same things in George Floyd’s case, as in many other cases. Mathis writes that Goines made up the existence a confidential informant to support the arrest. No one investigated the words of a veteran police officer against the testimony of an formerly convicted Black man.
Floyd pleaded guilty to possession if that is the case. One might ask the same question about Steven Mallet, who pleaded guilty to possession in exchange for a sentence of time served—10 months. He said he had rejected an earlier plea deal that would have required him to implicate his brother and decided to plead guilty only so he could get out of jail. Despite the guilty plea, the appeals court agreed that he was innocent.
Floyd had to plead guilty under even greater pressure. Mathis states that Floyd would have been subject to punishment enhancements if he had tried to bring Floyd to trial. These would have made him a “habitual offender” and would have put him in prison for at least twenty-five years. Floyd admitted to his crime in an attempt to save himself from the perverse criminal justice system that the United States has. These enhancements were not offered in exchange for Floyd’s guilty plea. Floyd was released after serving his 10 months sentence in State Jail.
Floyd was convicted of aggravated robbery using a deadly weapons in 2007. This occurred three years after Goines had arrested Floyd for selling crack. In 2009, Floyd pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years in prison. Floyd was convicted of three felonies by the time he was arrested in 2004: delivery of less than one gram cocaine 1997, theft 1998 and possession of less than one kilogram cocaine 2002. If prosecutors decided to pursue these cases, any two would have sufficed to warrant penalty increases under Texas’ “habitual offender” statute.
Because Floyd had a history that was relevant to the arrest in 2004, the crack case seemed plausible. It also helps explain why Goines habitual dishonesty, 15 years later, was never revealed. That may be why Goines didn’t hesitate to fram Floyd, given that he believed he was doing so.
In 2004 it is difficult to know if Goines was lying. Harris County prosecutors are reasonable to conclude that Goines has not been truthful in 2004. This casts doubt upon any conviction that was based solely on Goines’ word. Cops such as Goines have a right to lie because the drug war allows them to arrest and convict others in situations where they are the only witnesses. The only evidence that he has is the transaction he says he witnessed.
Goines, who resigned following the Harding Street raid in 2019, had worked for the Houston Police Department 34 years despite numerous allegations of misconduct and testimonies. Ogg stated last year that “if the magistrate asking Goines to sign the warrant for the Harding Street raid had known his history of lying and deceit,” Ogg said. “He would not have signed it, and Rhogena, Dennis, would probably still be living today.”
Then–Police Chief Art Acevedo repeatedly described the cops who killed Tuttle and Nicholas as “heroes,” lavishing praise on Goines in particular. Acevedo declared, “He is a large teddy bear.” Acevedo said, “He is a large African-American, strong ox and tough as nails. His courage is the only thing larger than his body.” God gave him this big body in order to keep his courage. The man has a lot of courage.
Acevedo is Miami’s current police chief and denied the Harding Street raid was a result of “systemic” problems within the Narcotics Division. Ogg brought charges against 12 Houston narcotics police officers. They included falsifying records, claiming overtime, and murder against another Houston officer involved in the raid. Without the involvement of their supervisors, she stated, “Goines or others could not have preyed on the community the way that they did.” “Every control and balance that was in place to curb this behavior was evaded.”
The culture of complicit or lax supervision described by Ogg and federal lawsuits brought to you by the Tuttle family and Nicholas families makes it easier to comprehend how Goines can get away for lying about people being accused in drug crimes. It begs the question: How many cops are like Goines working in police departments all over the country and being treated as heroes while they subvert justice?