A police officer in Fort Worth, Texas won’t face charges for shooting and killing a 72-year-old grandfather, a jury decided yesterday.
In May 2013 police responded to an alarm across the street from the home of Jerry Waller. The call was for 409 Havenwood Lane. They proceeded over to 404 Havenwood Lane.
When they arrived, they found Waller with a pistol in his hand in his garage. According to the search warrant released after the shooting, they asked Waller to drop the weapon, and instead he pointed it at the officers.
“The subject failed to comply and pointed the handgun,” the warrant reads.
One of the officers then shot Waller six times in the chest.
That officer was identified as Richard Hoeppner, a rookie who had been on the force for eight months. The other officer, Benjamin B. Hanlon, didn’t fire a shot, but was later fired for falsifying a report that was not related to the shooting.
The grand jury heard more than 25 hours of testimony over four days. In the day, they decided not to indict Hoeppner.
“This community is fortunate to have grand jurors that take their job as seriously as this one has. That said, this was a tragic event and our hearts go out to everyone involved,” said Deputy Chief District Attorney Jack Strickland.
Forensic evidence from the case and the testimony of the two officers convinced the jury that in the poor lighting the police thought they were being confronted with an armed burglar.
Waller’s wife Kathy said her husband probably thought the same thing about the police. She voiced her disappointment after hearing the verdict.
“Somebody just got a little trigger happy, and away they go,” she said. “I think the police made a terrible mistake.”