February 3, 2014

Official case over in police shooting

A grand jury and an internal Fort Worth Police Department investigation have concluded that officer R.A. “Alex” Hoeppner was justified in shooting to death 72-year-old Woodhaven homeowner Jerry Waller last May.

The grand jury’s decision not to indict the officer in this tragic incident officially ends the criminal investigation.

But it doesn’t end the pain of the Waller family or his east-side neighbors, who for seven frustrating months waited for police and the justice system to explain how and why this man was killed in the garage of his home.

The official police report, which the family and news media had been requesting for months, was released Friday, two days after the grand jury wrapped up more than 25 hours of testimony and no-billed the officer.

Hoeppner had been dispatched to a house across the street from Waller’s but ended up at the wrong address.

Police Chief Jeff Halstead said the autopsy and other evidence proved the homeowner had a gun “pointed directly at officer Hoeppner,” who was forced to make a decision.

The chief said Waller’s wounds indicated that his arm was outstretched, although a doctor with the medical examiner’s office said in a police report that “it was difficult to determine when and how the projectiles struck Waller’s left forearm, wrist and left hand.”

The Waller family is not satisfied with the police report, and their attorney, Art Brender, said there are other documents related to the incident that the city still refuses to produce even though they are required to do so under the Open Records Act.

“The real story about the tragic shooting of Jerry Waller at the hands of Fort Worth police will be brought forward in the next days and weeks,” Brender told the Star-Telegram.

Family members have every right to pursue the matter and should be given all the records to which they are entitled.

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