FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Eight months have passed since an elderly Fort Worth homeowner was shot and killed by Fort Worth police. Today a Tarrant County grand jury decided the officer who pulled the trigger won’t face charges.
It was last May when Woodhaven homeowner Jerry Waller armed himself and went outside to check on his neighbor, after hearing suspicious noises.
The Fort Worth Police Department had also received a report of the alarm. Two officers were sent to 409 Havenwood Lane, but went to the wrong house across the street. Officers were already searching 404 Havenwood Lane — Jerry Waller’s house.
According to officers Waller was in his garage with a handgun, when they identified themselves and ordered him to drop the weapon. A search warrant released after the shooting said, “The subject failed to comply and pointed the handgun.” The 72-year-old man was shot six times in the chest.
The statement put out Wednesday by the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office said, “Waller, armed with a handgun, went to his garage to investigate and was fatally shot by one of the officers.”
That officer was previously identified as Richard Hoeppner, who at the time was a certified police officer for merely eight months. The second officer who responded to the alarm did not fire his gun.
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The grand jury decided that criminal charges wouldn’t be filed against Hoeppner after hearing more than 25 hours of testimony in four days.
Deputy Chief District Attorney Jack Strickland said, “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.”
According to state law, no one other than grand jurors are allowed to hear deliberations, and the grand jurors don’t reveal reasons for their decision.
Just after the shooting Waller’s wife, Kathy, voiced concerns about the officers reacting too quickly. “Somebody just got a little trigger happy, and away they go,” she said. “I think the police made a terrible mistake.”
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