Former Houston Police Chief’s Potential Accountability 5 Years After Deadly Drug Raid

Art Acevedo has had a turbulent time since leaving his position as the Chief of Houston’s police department in 2016. He served just six months as the police chief in Miami before being terminated, followed by a 13-month stint as Aurora, Colorado’s interim police chief, which also ended in an abrupt departure. After leaving Aurora, Acevedo planned to take a high-paying position in Austin, but the offer was met with disapproval from the local city council and district attorney due to a scandal involving untested rape kits from Acevedo’s time as police chief in the city. Additionally, Houston City Council allocated an additional $1.7 million to defend Acevedo and the city in lawsuits stemming from a 2019 drug raid that resulted in the death of a middle-aged couple and was mired in controversy.

The 2019 drug raid, which was Acevedo’s introduction to the public, resulted in the killing of a couple, Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas, who were accused of selling heroin. However, the circumstances around the raid quickly unraveled as neighbors disputed the alleged criminal activity at the couple’s house, and the police failed to find evidence supporting their claims. It was later revealed that the raid was based on false information provided by investigator Gerald Goines, who was charged, along with several other officers and supervisors, for various offenses related to the raid. The scandal led to dropped cases, reexaminations of previous convictions, and a federal lawsuit filed by the victims’ relatives.

Critics argued that the problems within the Houston Police Department ran deeper than just a few individuals, as indicated by an internal audit that revealed widespread negligence and potential malpractice within the Narcotics Division. The victims’ families filed federal lawsuits against the city and various officers, including Acevedo, painting the Narcotics Squad as a criminal operation that was shockingly predictable and preventable.

Acevedo’s controversial tenure in various cities, coupled with the scandals and lawsuits that have continued to emerge from his leadership, have raised significant concerns about his performance as a top law enforcement official.