A Houston, Texas woman has been sentenced to 40 months in federal prison on Tuesday after she made bogus 911 calls and used the hotline as a "weapon," leading to a fatal drug raid by the Houston Police Department (HPD) that claimed two innocent lives in 2019.

The suspect Patricia Ann Garcia, who pleaded guilty to one count of providing false information in March, was the first person to be sentenced in connection with the deadly raid, which killed neighbors Dennis Tuttle, 59, and his wife, Rhogena Nicholas, 58, on Jan. 28, 2019.

Garcia had been in custody since Dec. 4, 2020, after breaching her bond conditions.

Tuesday’s sentencing hearing recounted that Garcia had alerted 911 and reported that her daughter "Melissa" was being held against her will by her neighbors, Tuttle and Nicholas, KHOU11 reported. She described them as addicts and drug dealers who had heroin and firearms, including machine guns, inside their Harding Street home in 2019.

The woman, who was in a fog of cocaine and alcohol use at the time, further told dispatchers that heavily-armed police officers would probably need to swarm the house unannounced, in a form of a raid, because the people inside might retaliate and lives may be lost. 

However, none of these claims were true, according to prosecutors. Garcia does not even have a daughter. It has since emerged that Garcia faked the police alert as revenge to her neighbors following a longstanding feud.

"Ms. Garcia dialed 911 and intended to use those three digits as a weapon," Alamdar Hamdani, assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas, told the court on Tuesday.

It was Garcia’s bogus 911 call and another fake “tip” from a fake confidential informant that cop Gerald Goines, who led the HPD narcotics squad, used to get the no-knock warrant for the raid. 

HPD police then barged into the couple’s home on Jan. 28, 2019, where several officers opened fire and exchanged gunshots with Tuttle, who was a Navy veteran. Cops proceeded to shoot Tuttle and Nicholas several more times, with the intent of killing the duo, Courthouse News reported. Police also killed their pet dog with a shotgun blast, according to court records. 

The operation ultimately left four officers, including Goines himself, injured in the shootout with Tuttle and Nicholas. One cop has been paralyzed from the neck down. 

Police detected small traces of marijuana and cocaine in the Harding Street home, but no heroin, during the botched HPD raid. Goines, who has since retired, later confessed that there was no informant and he had acquired the drugs himself, according to prosecutors. 

Meanwhile, U.S. Judge George C. Hanks sentenced Garcia to 40 months in federal prison on Tuesday. Following her release, Garcia will be placed under three more years of police supervision, the Houston Chronicle noted.

“There’s no question in my mind, Ms. Garcia, in that you wanted something bad to happen to [Tuttle and Nicholas],” Hanks said. “You didn’t care what happened, and respectfully, the court can’t condone that.”

Garcia's legal representative, Marjorie Meyers, had initially asked for a sentence of 10 to 16 months as recommended by the sentencing guidelines. She argued that her client has a long history of mental illness and drug abuse, stressing that the death of Tuttle and Nicholas was due to "rogue and corrupt police officers."

The raid tarnished the reputation of the HPD, revealing deep dysfunction in an HPD narcotics squad. Several current and former police officers linked to the narcotics unit that carried out the drug raid have also been indicted in Texas and federal courts. Current and former officers, Goines and Felipe Gallegos, are hit with murder charges in state court.

Garcia's sentencing on Tuesday comes a week after Goines’ former partner, Steven Bryant, pleaded guilty in federal court to falsifying records to impede the investigation into the scandal. Bryant had confessed that he lied on a report to protect Goines.

When Bryant recovered the search warrant inside the victims’ home, he allegedly realized that Goines had lied about the drug buy, Federal prosecutors said. Bryant then produced a false report claiming he was with Goines when Goines bought heroin from the couple the night before the raid.

Bryant, who also faces state charges of aggregate theft by a public servant, could be slapped with up to 20 years in federal prison when he is sentenced in August. 

The Harris County District Attorney's Office has dropped more than 150 cases linked to Goines and Bryant. Authorities are still investigating more than 14,000 cops, leaving multiple convictions overthrown.

Patricia Ann Garcia Houston, Texas woman Patricia Ann Garcia was sentenced to 40 months in federal prison on Tuesday after she made bogus 911 calls and used them as a "weapon," leading to a fatal drug raid by Houston Police Department (HPD) that claimed two innocent lives in 2019. U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas