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‘They indicted a hero’ | Attorney for HPD officer charged with murder in Harding Street raid says he’s innocent

Attorney Rusty Hardin called the indictment "factually, legally and morally wrong." He said Officer Felipe Gallegos was a hero that day.

HOUSTON — The Houston police officer charged with murder in the deadly  Harding Street raid has hired high-powered attorney Rusty Hardin to represent him.

Felipe Gallegos was indicted on Monday, two years after the 2019 raid that ended with the deaths of a Houston couple, Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas, and their dog. 

Gallegos fired the shot that killed Tuttle, according to court documents.

Hardin said they were told to show up for the grand jury Monday morning, but the officer was denied the right to testify. He's accusing Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg of playing politics with the law.

RELATED: Another HPD officer charged with murder in Harding Street raid; 5 more indicted on other charges

"It's been very challenging because I haven't been afforded the right to tell my side of the story, to be able to explain that I'm not the bad person that I'm being painted to be," Gallegos said at a news conference Tuesday. "Not only has it been challenging on me, but it's been challenging on my entire family and my kids."

Hardin called the indictment "factually, legally and morally wrong." He said Gallegos was a hero that day.

“The Harris County grand jury, at the direction of the district attorney, indicted a hero. No doubt about it, they indicted a hero,” Hardin said. “He saved lives in a situation in which four police officers were shot; one paralyzed for life, hospitalized for a year and diagnosed as a paraplegic.”

RELATED: Dispatch audio: 'We have an officer down, we need HFD ASAP'

Hardin described Gallegos' version of what happened during the raid that lasted 1 minute and 25 seconds. 

  • Gallegos was at the "back of the stack" on the porch when other officers went in ahead of him to serve the drug warrant. 
  • The first officer inside goes down and Gallegos hears him yell “I’m hit!” followed by several more gunshots.
  • Officer Cedell Lovings was also down and unable to move, so Gallegos and others rushed in to help him.
  • Gallegos then saw [Gerald] Goines had been shot in the face and “half his face is hanging down," Hardin said.
  • There is still another officer down inside, so Gallegos kept going.
  • He sees Tuttle still shooting
  • “Ultimately, Officer Gallegos engaged in gunfire with Mr. Tuttle and Mr. Tuttle was killed,” Hardin said. 

Nicholas also died in the shootout. 

“The consequences of corruption are that two innocent people and their dog were shot to death in their home by police; four officers were shot, one paralyzed, and now all of them will face jurors who will determine their fate,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said during a news conference on Monday.

Goines, who led the raid, faces the only other murder charges in the case. He's accused of lying to get the warrant. 

But Hardin says Gallegos didn't know it was a fabricated warrant and was just doing his job. 

He accused Ogg of "jumping on the anti-cop bandwagon."

“Let’s talk about the evil of indicting heroes to make a public point – to jump on a bandwagon to make a point," Hardin said. “I don’t know what the state’s theory is on how that could remotely be considered murder."

Gallegos has wanted to follow in his father's footsteps by becoming a police officer since he was a kid, Hardin said.

Harding Street was his last warrant with the narcotics division before reaching his dream of becoming a SWAT officer the following week. 

The married father of two small children is a 12-year veteran with a clean record, according to Hardin, but has now been relieved of duty.

Hardin said a roomful of attorneys initially told Gallegos not to testify but were brought to tears when they heard his story.

The other five officers indicted Monday are charged with engaging in criminal activity.