Fort Worth officer fired, but not for his role in shooting

Posted Friday, Oct. 11, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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One of two officers involved in the deadly shooting of a Woodhaven homeowner has been fired, but not for his role in the controversial incident.

Officer Benjamin B. Hanlon was fired Tuesday after an internal investigation determined that he had lied in an arrest affidavit about an Aug. 9 traffic stop, officials said.

“Intentionally placing false information on an arrest affidavit or on any other official document is a very serious matter and affects the ethical standards of our profession. It will not be tolerated by any police employee … much less an officer on probation,” Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead said in an emailed statement to the Star-Telegram. “Officer Hanlon did not meet the performance expectations before the completion of his probationary period and he was terminated.”

The affidavit indicated that drugs were found on a suspect during a traffic stop, police said, but they were actually discovered when the suspect was booked into jail.

A sergeant who reviewed the affidavit noticed inconsistencies and initiated an investigation, police said.

The firing of Hanlon, who was assigned to the east patrol, came just four days before his probationary period was to end, which means he has no right to appeal.

In the fatal shooting, Hanlon and fellow rookie officer R.P. Hoeppner were dispatched shortly before 1 a.m. May 28 to 409 Havenwood Lane in the Woodhaven neighborhood on a burglary alarm call.

The officers, however, “inadvertently began searching” across the street at 404 Havenwood, the home of 72-year-old Jerry Waller, according to a previously released search warrant affidavit.

According to the affidavit, the officers had approached the west side of Waller’s house near the garage in search of a possible burglar. The affidavit indicated that the house had no lighting around it and that the officers used their flashlights.

Soon after, they encountered Waller, who, according to the affidavit, “was armed with a handgun standing near the corner of the home.”

The officers identified themselves and ordered Waller to drop the gun, the affidavit stated. But Waller allegedly pointed it at them, prompting Hoeppner to shoot Waller.

Waller was pronounced dead at 1:26 a.m. inside the garage.

Waller’s family later accused police of misrepresenting details of the incident, insisting that Waller never stepped out of his garage.

“He was shot multiple times in the chest on a few steps away from the doorway to his kitchen,” Waller’s son, Chris Waller, told the Star-Telegram in an email.

Police presented the case to the Tarrant County district attorney’s office Aug. 1. Melody McDonald, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office, said Thursday that it will be presented to a grand jury at a future date.

Hoeppner remains on active duty while the case is pending.

Deanna Boyd, 817-390-7655 Twitter: @deannaboyd

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