In a federal lawsuit filed August 13, 2021, a Houston man wrongfully convicted on drug charges is seeking unspecified damages from the disgraced cop who fabricated the evidence that sent him to prison. The now-freed man, Otis Mallet, also seeks damages from former Houston Police Department (HPD) Officer Gerald Goines and his supervisor, Sgt. Troy Gamble for violating his civil rights.
Mallet served two years of an eight-year prison sentence for the 2011 drug conviction before he was paroled. His brother, Steven, pleaded guilty in 2009 to charges related to the same drug deal, which Goines—who is Black—busted. There was only one problem:
Goines lied, and the brothers—who are also Black—were innocent.
The truth didn’t come to light until 2019 when Goines led an HPD team on another drug raid that left a middle-aged couple—disabled Navy veteran Dennis Tuttle and his wife, Rhogena Nicolas—shot dead. Both were white. As outrage grew afterward, Goines said the confidential informant who fingered the couple could not be found. It soon became apparent to HPD investigators that Goines had fabricated the testimony. He has since been charged with murder in both deaths, and five other HPD officers involved in the raid have been indicted for tampering with evidence to cover up the crime.
After that, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg began reviewing 40 convictions won based on evidence supplied solely by Goines. The first two were Otis and Steven Mallet, who were convicted primarily on testimony from Goines that was proved false. The D.A.’s office guided public defenders through the steps leading to the exoneration of both men in 2020. By March 2021, the state Court of Criminal Appeals had affirmed that the brothers are “actually innocent.”
Otis Mallet received just over $260,000 in compensatory damages from a state fund for wrongful convictions. However, his lawsuit asks for more, arguing that HPD should have known Goines’ work was suspect, not least because nine complaints had been lodged against the 34-year veteran cop— including “misconduct” and “improper police behavior”—from 1987 to 2005.
Moreover, there were glaring inconsistencies between the criminal reports Goines turned in and his expense records, which Sgt. Gamble should have caught.
Goines said he bought crack cocaine from the Mallet brothers with “police money.” But no such money was ever recovered, nor were any funds recorded in the officer’s expense report for April 2008, when the transaction allegedly occurred. Then, in May 2008, he reported a $200 payment to a confidential informant who allegedly identified the Mallets to be drug dealers. But that information never made it into his report, nor the case file, either.
Of Goines’ fellow officers also charged after the raid that killed Tuttle and Nicolas, only one—Goines’ partner, former Officer Steven Bryant—has been convicted after he pleaded guilty on June 22, 2021. The others—former Sgt. Clemente Reyna, former Sgt. Thomas Wood, former Lt. Robert Gonzalez, and former Officer Hodgie Armstrong—are still awaiting trial. Former Officer Felipe Gallegos has now been joined, whose murder charge was tossed, though he still faces a felony count of organized criminal activity.
Despite the convictions that Ogg now has to review after Goines’ fall from grace—about 14,000 in all that were prosecuted based on evidence supplied by him and Bryant—former HPD Chief Art Acevedo promised that the officer’s fraud did not represent a “systematic” problem. Acevedo has since departed for Miami to take over the top police job there.
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