Childhood friend of Rhogena Nicholas weighs in on deadly drug raid

Before Rhogena Nicholas and her husband Dennis Tuttle were gunned down in the "no-knock raid", she spent her childhood in Macon, Mississippi. 

With the investigation into the deadly shooting still underway, we talked to her childhood friend about the case. Rusty Pugh knew from the beginning that something wasn't adding up.

"The first reaction, talking to a couple of friends of mine, they were like, 'Wow, I can't believe she was a drug dealer.' You know, that's the story we heard," Pugh said. "And then when the truth started coming out, most people were like me. I didn't believe this from the beginning. She was not that type of person."

The initial information from police was that Rhogena Nicholas and Dennis Tuttle were selling heroin out of the home they'd lived in for over two decades. Police later said that Officer Gerald Goines had lied about heroin in a sworn affidavit in order to get the no-knock warrant, which resulted in the shoot-out that killed the married couple. 

"I think it's tragic that innocent life was lost. An honest mistake on the part of law enforcement is one thing, but in this case, I think it's criminal," said Pugh.

Rusty, who is a news anchor for "American Family Radio Network", went to school with Rhogena from third through twelfth grade.

"Good friends--spring break trip to Florida. It was a group of about eight of us--our little clique in high school."

Rusty kept up with Rhogena through Facebook after she moved to Houston, but he never met her husband Dennis.

"Personally, I think her husband probably heard commotion. Someone busts into your house early evening. A lot of people I know, probably their reaction would be to come out, maybe not always shooting, but they would come out to confront maybe what they thought was an intruder."

The police chief has now pledged to end no-knock warrants, something Rusty is glad to hear.

"I mean I'm not trying to tell police how to do their job. Like I said, I know they have a tough job, but I think it has to be done in a different way. People don't need to die in this situation."

The District Attorney's office is reviewing 1,400 cases handled by Officer Goines and 800 cases handled by Officer Steven Bryant, both of whom were relieved of duty following the deadly raid.

Meanwhile, a federal civil rights investigation is underway, looking at what transpired in that deadly shootout on January 28.