‘Enough is enough’: HPD union chief doubles down with fiery comments on Fox News
Two days after his controversial comments sparked pushback, Houston Police union chief Joe Gamaldi doubled down in a fiery tirade Wednesday on Fox & Friends.
“I’m talking to the activists who have severely made our officers the enemy,” he told the national news outlet. “They’ve put targets on our backs.”
A botched drug raid on Monday left two residents dead and five Houston Police officers wounded in an incident Gamaldi framed as the result of anti-police rhetoric. In a five-minute interview, he laid the blame for police shootings on activists and media figures who “drive a wedge” between communities and police.
“We’re sick and tired,” he said, “and enough is enough.”
After bursting in the front door of 7815 Harding, an undercover narcotics officer shot to death a pit bull, setting off a gun battle with the couple who lived there. The botched raid stemmed from an earlier undercover heroin buy at the home, but ultimately police found no dope there. Instead, they walked away with guns, marijuana and an unidentified powder.
Both Dennis Tuttle and his wife Rhogena Nicholas died in the shoot-out. Police said that Tuttle — a Navy veteran — snuck around the back of the house and opened fire on officers, while Nicholas reached for a shot officer’s gun.
Though the operation was intended to target drug dealers, the couple’s friends and family have maintained that they weren’t using or selling heroin.
Still, the incident provoked a strong reaction from union brass. First, Gamaldi lashed out in a Monday press conference, telling anyone “spreading the rhetoric that police officers are the enemy” that “we’ve got your number.”
“We’re sick and tired of having targets on our backs,” he continued. “We are sick and tired of having dirtbags trying to take our lives when all we’re trying to do is protect this community and our families.”
Alarmed by the seemingly accusatory comments, local activist Ashton Woods struck back.
“We have a freedom of speech,” he told the Chronicle on Tuesday. “We don’t need you blaming us for what happened.”
Yet, on Wednesday, Gamaldi reinforced his earlier statements during his TV interview, calling out activists and “talking heads” for “harmful narratives.” He dismissed the idea that police could act with bias toward minorities, and blamed the activist upsurge following Michael Brown’s killing in Ferguson for a subsequent increase in police deaths.
“What was that seminal moment that changed it all?” he said. “Well, 2014 when we had hands-up-don’t-shoot which by the way was a completely false narrative and they continue to beat the drum on that.”
As Gamaldi’s comments made the rounds on social media and sparked outrage online, on Thursday HPD Chief Art Acevedo announced a press conference at 3 p.m.
And again, Woods struck back, this time calling for Gamaldi to retract his statements and resing.
“He should be held accountable,” Woods told the Chronicle. “He needs to apologize.”