Editorial: Two months after a Fort Worth police shooting, still waiting for more details

Posted Wednesday, Jul. 31, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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When a father and three children died in 2004 because a Fort Worth Water Gardens pool was mistakenly filled three times deeper than designed, then-Mayor Mike Moncrief and city officials joined the family’s grief and tears.

Two months after a grandfather died in what appears to be a mistaken encounter with police, city officials have offered little other than a thin explanation.

The widow and family of the late Jerry Waller are not satisfied with the lack of response by city leaders and have called for an independent investigation.

They deserve to know more, and so do the people of Fort Worth.

Police have yet to send the district attorney their investigation into Waller’s death in or near his garage about 1 a.m. May 28. Police say Waller, 72, declined to drop a .38-caliber pistol when officers encountered him while checking around his house on a burglar alarm call nearby.

According to a search warrant affidavit issued the morning of Waller’s death, police were at his address by mistake.

A security company reported an alarm signal at a home across the street in the Woodhaven neighborhood of east Fort Worth.

Police arrived seven minutes later but started checking Waller’s house for signs of a burglary.

The affidavit says police “inadvertently” went to the wrong home “due to poor lighting conditions.”

Waller saw flashlights and went to check, his wife has said. He and officers met in or near the attached rear garage.

According to the affidavit, Waller “failed to comply” when officers identified themselves and ordered him to drop the gun.

Left unexplained is whether Waller had left his garage and exactly how he posed a threat.

Also, how could police with bright flashlights not even find the odd-numbered side of a street, or the address on the Wallers’ mailbox, or the other address painted on the curb at the house across the street?

Regardless of any mistakes, officers still must protect themselves and others from a reasonable threat.

More information would help Fort Worth residents feel better protected.

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