ABC, NBC Highlight Police Misconduct Targeting White Couple

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Cross posted to the MRC's NewsBusters blog

On Wednesday evening, the NBC Nightly News and ABC's World News Tonight gave attention to a police misconduct story that has gotten astonishingly little attention considering the media's usual fixation on cases of police misconduct that leaves  suspects -- innocent or not -- unnecessarily killed.

Former Houston police officers Gerald Goines and Steven Bryant were arrested over federal charges that Goines lied to get a search warrant to stage a no-knock raid on the home of Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas, leaving the couple dead in a shootout, but failing to find the heroin they were suspected of selling.

Given that, last January, the story of the violent raid that left four police officers injured received substantial attention from all the major networks when it was believed to be a legitimate drug raid, it is even more surprising that most of the networks failed to feature much, if any follow-up after the dramatic twist in the case, possibly because the couple killed were white, thus depriving the media of the type of racial angle that gets frequent attention In such stories.

ABC's World News Tonight gave the story a mere 21 seconds on Wednesday as host David Muir read a brief:

DAVID MUIR: Two former Houston police officers are under arrest tonight for an alleged drug raid that left two people dead and five officers injured. Former officers Gerald Goines and Steven Bryant now facing federal charges, including falsifying records. Search warrants claimed the occupants of a home were selling heroin. The two people who lived there were killed in the raid -- there was no heroin found.

The NBC Nightly News gave the story one and a half minutes, and had previously devoted a minute and 21 seconds to the story last February as the legality of the raid was starting to come into question.

Last August, after it was announced that former Officer Goines had been charged with murder, the CBS Evening News gave it a mere 32-second brief.

The cable news networks have so far failed to follow up by informing their viewers of the police misconduct that has been uncovered in the case. By contrast, all the networks gave the case substantial attention over a period of a couple of days when the raid first happened from January 28 to 29 earlier this year.

Below is a complete transcript of the relevant report from the NBC Nightly News from Wednesday, November 20:

LESTER HOLT: Two former Houston police officers once hailed as heroes have been indicted as criminals by a federal grand jury after a botched deadly raid. Here's Miguel Almaguer.

MIGUEL ALMAGUER: Today, in federal court, two former Houston police officers who were once hailed as heroes faced a judge, indicted on charges stemming from a police raid that left two people dead and four officers shot. Investigators say Gerald Goines and Steven Bryant obstructed justice by falsifying records. Goines allegedly lying to attain a search warrant which led to the deadly shootout at this home. Prosecutors say Bryant later lied to cover for his partner.

ART ACEVEDO, HOUSTON, HOUSTON POLICE CHIEF: Today is another step in that journey towards justice for the deceased individuals.

ALMAGUER: After serving the no-knock warrant, five officers were engaged in a gunfight, killing a husband and wife, while police say small amounts of drugs, not including heroin, were found in the home. Goines and Bryant claimed the couple were heroin dealers. A third defendant was also charged today with making false 911 calls claiming the couple had machine guns.

We have to abide by the constitutional requirements that we take an oath to follow. With both men fighting the federal charges, the D.A. has also filed felony murder charges against Goines. Tonight, two former cops accused of being on the wrong side of the law. Miguel Almaguer, NBC News.

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