Task Force Reveals Findings on Homeowner Shot by Police
FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The Tarrant County District Attorney’s office and Fort Worth Police Department have released new public records in the case of an officer involved shooting during a home burglary call.
Jerry Waller and his wife Kathleen lived at 404 N. Havenwood Lane. In the early morning hours of May 28, 2013, two Fort Worth police officers responded to a burglary alarm call for 409 N. Havenwood. When the officers arrived, they say they could not find the exact address in the dark, and walked up to a home they presumed was 409.
In newly released documents, the officers told investigators they did not find the right house for three reasons: their police mobile data computer did not give them the exact address of the burglar alarm that sounded; it was extremely dark and they couldn’t see the numbers on the curb; and they didn’t know if Waller was the resident of the home, or a suspect.
The files contain audio interviews with the policemen, as well as Kathleen Waller, after the fatal shooting.
“The police woman told me they had an alarm call to my house, and we’ve got an alarm system but we don’t have it hooked up. We never called 911. There wasn’t any reason,” Waller told police.
Homeowner Jerry Waller heard the commotion outside his house, and went into the garage armed with a handgun, to investigate. There, he came across Officer Richard Hoeppner. Officer Hoeppner said he told Waller to drop the gun.
“As soon as I see that pistol, I’m telling him numerous times, ‘Drop the gun. Drop the gun. Drop the gun.’ I can’t tell you how many times I told him, but I told him enough times for him to understand I was actually serious. I mean, I was very assertive in my voice,” Hoeppner said to a Fort Worth Detective during the investigation.
Hoeppner and the other officer, Benjamin Hanlon, were both new members of the police force. In the interview, an investigator mentions that Hoeppner has only worked with Fort Worth Police for seven months, and was on patrol for just four months.
Hoeppner said at one point in the confrontation, Waller put the gun on the back of his car parked in the garage. The officer said he was shining his flash light in the eyes of the homeowner, and Waller told him to get the light out of his eyes.
Hoeppner said when he walked toward Waller, Waller picked the gun back up and pointed it at him. Hoeppner fired five times, killing Waller.
“His attitude towards us was very malicious. It was not ‘pro-police’ at all. He did not seem happy that we were there,” said Hoeppner to investigators.
Hanlon told police that Waller did raise the gun at Hoeppner, even after they identified themselves as Fort Worth police officers.
Kathleen Waller told police she and her husband spent the day barbequing with their grandchildren, and swimming in the pool. She told police, by the time she woke up and got dressed and could see what was happening in the garage, her husband was lying motionless on the ground.
The Waller family has hired their own investigator.
Last week, a Tarrant County Grand Jury found the officer justified in the fatal shooting. Hoeppner was cleared by Fort Worth Police, but Hanlon was fired months later, for unrelated reasons.
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