Rookie Police Officer Shot Fort Worth Homeowner Six Times

FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) – The daughter of the homeowner shot and killed by Fort Worth police early Tuesday morning says the department has misrepresented details surrounding the shooting.

Angie Waller is calling for an independent investigation.

“Jerry was a dedicated family man and small business owner,” says Angie Waller. “We are deeply troubled by the police department’s misrepresenting details of the incident in their interviews with the media. We would ask that the police refrain from providing details to the media until a thorough investigation has been completed, preferably by an independent body.”

Waller, 72, was shot six times in the chest after he went outside to investigate bright lights outside of the bedroom on Havenwood Lane.

Investigators say he had a handgun, but sources tell CBS 11 News that he had put the gun down and then picked it back up before he was shot.

“We were disturbed by suggestions that police may have felt threatened by a man in his own garage faced with unknown trespassers wielding flashlights,” said Angie Waller.  “We look forward to a full investigation of this terrible incident that will lead to meaningful steps to ensure that nothing like this will happen again. Beyond the tragedy of his death, we hope that everyone will remember the spirit of Jerry’s life.”

LISTEN TO RADIO CALL FROM FORT WORTH POLICE:

Richard Hoeppner and Benjamin Hanlon were the officers responding to the call from the home across the street from Waller’s. Turns out, the alarm went off accidentally.

Hanlon’s voice is heard on an audio recording taken moments after the shooting to report the shooting, “I don’t know who the guy is. The guy came out with a gun. He wouldn’t put the gun down. He pointed it a Hoeppner. Hoeppner fired.”

Sources tell CBS 11 News the officer who fired the shots is eight-month rookie Hoeppner, son of a retired captain who was in charge of training for Fort Worth police.

Hoeppner was one of two officers who were the first at the scene. The other officer, believed to be the nephew of a Fort Worth police lieutenant, did not fire his gun.

One of Hoeppner’s family members told CBS 11 that he acted in self defense and is now suffering the “emotional wounds” over what happened. The relative said he is certain Hoeppner will be cleared of any wrongdoing.

The CBS 11 I-Team obtained state documents showing officer Richard Hoeppner was certified as a peace officer in October of 2012.  Despite only being on the job for eight months, Hoeppner was no stranger to the Fort Worth Police Department.  His father, Capt. Richard A. Hoeppner had been with the department for 25 years before recently retiring.  Capt. Hoeppner’s last job with the department was training new cadets.

Officer Benjamin Hanlon, Hoeppner’s partner early Tuesday morning was also an eight-month rookie.  He graduated and joined Fort Worth PD at the same time as Hoeppner.

The I-Team also found since January, Fort Worth Police have shot and killed four alleged suspects, including Jerry Waller.  In every one of these cases, the officers have said they felt their lives were in danger and that’s why they shot at the suspects.

The Fort Worth Police Department says because it’s an ongoing investigation they can’t release many details, “Please keep in mind that the incident on Havenwood Lane North is a Critical Police Incident which can take several weeks to complete, and like any and all Critical Police Incidents, the Fort Worth Police Department will conduct a thorough and transparent investigation,” says Sergeant Kelly Peel with Fort Worth Police.

As Waller’s family looks for answers so do community leaders.

“We have concerns about an officer shooting a citizen of Fort Worth 6 times in the chest when it appeared there would have been other ways in which they could have handled the situation,” says Rev. Kyev Tatum/President of Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Both officers are administrative leave until the investigation wraps up.

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