Houston Police Chief Art Avecedo Says No-Knock Raids Will End

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo talks to the media during a press conference at the police station, Friday, Feb. 15, 2019 in Houston. A lead investigator lied in an affidavit justifying a drug raid on a Houston home in which two residents were killed and four undercover officers were shot and wounded during a gun battle, the city’s police chief said Friday. ( Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Houston Police Chief Art Avecedo announced during a heated town meeting the Houston Police Department will end its use of no-knock warrants for all but a few situations. The meeting, as well as, the subsequent announcement by the chief comes three weeks following a drug raid in Pecan Park that left two suspects dead and saw five officers injured.

The chief told the group of reformers, advocates, and other members of the communities that no-knock raids would soon go the way of leaded gasoline.

The event was set up by the Coalition for Justice in Greater Houston. Avecedo said immediately after the event that situations deemed to require a no-knock raid will need to be specially exempted by his office. Avecedo says he is 99.9 percent sure the no-knock raids will not be used any longer. He says if there ever is a need his office will be responsible for the final decision.

The chief says when the two dead individuals and five officers are taken into consideration, the raids no longer seem to be a viable way of confronting suspects.

The meeting was contentious and many in attendance pressed Avecedo over the actions of officers working undercover in drug cases, the value of no-knock raids, and recent remarks made by Joe Gamaldi, President of the police union, that suggested the department would surveil individuals and groups that have been critical of law enforcement.

Avecedo also doubled down on earlier statements made by the chief when he said there would likely be the arrest of one or more officers involved with the raid. The crowd was not appeased by the statement and chanted angrily for all the officers on the scene to be arrested.

Avecedo was adamant, however, that his department would handle the investigation and would not be turning it over to the FBI or Texas Rangers. Avecedo explains his position by saying a department that cannot adequately police itself should be disbanded.

Kim Ogg, District Attorney for Harris County, assured a proper investigation will be conducted and promised the crowd that any wrongdoing uncovered would not go unpunished. The District Attorney cautioned the crowd against mob justice of any kind.

Avecedo responded to questions regarding discipline to Gamaldi or other officers placing activists under surveillance by saying he would not respond to speculative accusations.

One activist, Shere Dore, responded by saying earlier the same day police officers took pictures of protesters gathered at the police headquarters.

Avecedo said he would investigate the claim.