Officer Sued For Lying In Police Report — And It’s Not The First Lie He's Told

Gerald Goines' history of lying came to light in 2019 — meaning about 160 cases he was involved in need to be reexamined.

James Ybarra, who was arrested on drug charges in 2014, filed a federal lawsuit on Monday against the city of Houston and the former police officer who arrested him after a Texas court found he had been wrongfully convicted.

According to the lawsuit, which HuffPost has obtained and viewed, it says that in August 2014, Ybarra was in an apartment waiting to get a haircut when Houston Police officers, including Gerald Goines, entered. They proceeded to point a gun at Ybarra, handcuff him, and search him for drugs and contraband.

The officers didn’t find any drugs on Ybarra, but he was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance because Goines provided false information for his police report, the suit says.

“Soon after the arrest Goines filed out a police report that stated that handcuffed-behind-his-back James was seen twisting around attempting to reach into his front pocket which was false and Goines knew it to be false,” the lawsuit states.

“Goines also wrote in the police report that ‘Officers then observed a black pouch at the ground on the right side of Ybarra.’ And ‘Officer found a small quantity of marijuana and two ecstasy tablets inside the black pouch,’” the suit continues. “These statements were also false and Goines knew them to be false.”

The city of Houston did not respond to requests for comment on the lawsuit.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned Ybarra’s conviction last month, becoming one of 16 convictions connected to Goines that have been overturned so far.

Prosecutors in Harris County have established that every case Goines was involved in must be reexamined, according to ABC13 Houston. Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg told the Houston Chronicle in 2020 that more than 160 convictions that relied on information from Goines could be overturned. All of the cases have involved people of color.

Goines’ history of lying came to light after a botched raid in January 2019 that left Houston residents Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas dead and several officers wounded. Officers had broken into a home on a false warrant.

Goines was charged with felony murder and tampering with government records and pleaded not guilty to the charges, according to The Associated Press. He retired from the Houston Police Department in March 2019.

Goines has for 15 years falsified drug charges by planting drugs, as well as lying in affidavits, police reports and in court, according to Ybarra’s lawsuit.

“Without the tragic murder of the Tuttles it would still be going on today,” the suit says.

The city of Houston failed to conduct regular audits of the city’s narcotics division, allowed officers to falsify reports and timesheets, and permitted police to violate policies, according to the lawsuit.

It also goes on to allege that policymakers in Houston, including police chiefs and mayors, had “knowledge about said policies, customs or practices” and “were deliberately indifferent” about them.

“Goines was allowed to work as a narcotics officer for at least 22 years before James’ conviction and only left after he murdered the Tuttles in 2019 in the ‘Harding Street Raid.’ Narcotics enforcement is a field known to pose high risk for corruption given the covert nature of the work involving CIs, cash, drugs, and weapons,” the lawsuit reads.

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