HOUSTON - All sides agree that Felipe Gallegos is the Houston police officer who pulled the trigger, killing Dennis Tuttle at his home on Harding Street in January 2019, but while the grand jury has called him a murderer, his attorney says the story is quite the opposite.
"No question about it, they indicted a hero," said attorney Rusty Hardin who will represent Officer Felipe Gallegos in court as his case now heads to trial following Monday’s grand jury indictment for murder.
Hardin speaking for Gallegos who sat beside him at a press conference Tuesday. Hardin says Gallegos had to make a split-second decision during the no-knock raid in January 2019.
"A citizen shoots at police officers, and hits four of them," said Hardin. "Return fire by the police is going to be appropriate."
Members of the legal team representing Gallegos say the decision to pull the trigger was heroic.
"That’s the only reason those other four officers are alive today, is because of his actions," said attorney Leticia Quinones.
Gallegos’ legal team echoed what Chief Acevedo said Monday—that officer Gallegos had no involvement in obtaining the fraudulent no-knock warrant and responded appropriately to a deadly threat.
"Those four officers were the innocent ones, executing what they believed to be an innocent search warrant," said Quinones.
Gallegos was indicted Monday without testimony.
"The prosecutor comes down and says, the grand jury has said they don’t want to hear from him," said Hardin. "They’re declining to let him testify ... It is unconscionable to me and unimaginable to me that any responsible prosecuting authority would not want to hear, and give a chance to speak, a 12-year police officer who says he is not guilty and wants to explain."
Officer Gallegos spoke briefly at the press conference, reacting to the grand jury’s decision.
"It’s been very challenging, just because I haven’t been awarded the opportunity 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," said Gallegos.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner reacted to the news of the six indicted officers, saying he hopes a fair trial won’t be delayed.
"I hope that it will move expeditiously, because for example, if these officers didn’t do anything wrong, then it’s important for that to be determined and to be determined quickly," said Turner.
Gallegos is not facing any charges other than the murder charge. The five additional officers were indicted on a scheme to steal overtime pay.
The president of the Houston Police Officers Union says he believes all six officers are innocent.
"I can’t wait for our day in court," said Doug Griffith, president of the HPOU.