Man reportedly shot by police five times attempting to help neighbor he likely thought was in distress
May 29, 2013
Two police officers in Fort Worth are claiming the reason they gunned down a 72-year-old man in his own drive-way is because they “felt threatened.”
Early Tuesday, Jerry Wayne Waller heard his neighbor’s home alarm system sound, so he grabbed his gun and began walking over to investigate what the problem was.
“The 72-year-old man didn’t even make it to the house across the street before he was shot. He died on his own property,” reported CBS Fort Worth.
Waller was reportedly shot five times attempting to help a neighbor he likely thought was in distress.
Of Waller’s family, one of his neighbors, Becky Haskin, a former Fort Worth City Councilwoman stated, “They are just a nice retired couple, that loved working in their yard, having family over, and grandkids.” Haskin also said she saw the officers “sobbing uncontrollably and very distraught” following the shooting.
Fort Worth police Cpl. Tracey Knight said, “Officers felt threatened by the man with the handgun and he was shot,” but Waller’s family says they are “disturbed” by this excuse.
“We were disturbed by suggestions that police may have felt threatened by a man in his own garage faced with unknown trespassers wielding flashlights,” the family remarked in a statement released today.
Waller’s family says police have also been feeding misinformation to local news stations and the public. They are calling for an independent investigation into yesterday’s deplorable police actions.
Waller’s wife Kathy told NBC DFW she was “disgusted” by the incident, describing the officers as “trigger happy.”
“He would give you the shirt off his back, and he was loving, and he was a wonderful husband,” Kathy said the day of the shooting. “I think the police made a terrible mistake.”
The officers involved, R.A. Hoeppner and B.B. Hanlon, have been on the force less than a year and were not hurt, according to law enforcement. They have been placed on administrative leave until the investigation concludes.
The shooting comes only days after police in Fort Worth botched a drug raid, killing an asthmatic man in his own home.
CBS DFW reported officers raided the man’s home on May 16 looking for cocaine, but found none. According to witnesses, the man “had his hands behind his back the whole time,” but couldn’t breathe on the floor as he was overweight and suffered from asthma. They said the man “was shocked with a Taser at least twice; then stopped breathing and died.”
Earlier this year, we covered how police were being conditioned not to hesitate when confronted with a gun-toting member of the public.
In February, we reported the Department of Homeland Security held a $2 million dollar contract with Law Enforcement Targets, Inc., a shooting range target manufacturer that produced shooting targets depicting armed elderly citizens, pregnant women and children in residential settings.
Dubbed “No More Hesitation” targets, one of the company’s phone representatives told a caller the targets were produced at the request of law enforcement for training purposes. Undoubtedly, the targets were intended to desensitize police to the idea of shooting gun-owning American citizens, as police in Fort Worth so excellently demonstrated.
The Waller family’s statement is available below, via NBC DFW:
The immediate family of Jerry Wayne Waller of Fort Worth is shocked and deeply saddened by his untimely death in the privacy of his own home. Jerry was a dedicated family man and small business owner. As we mourn his loss, and celebrate his life, we ask that the media respect our privacy.
Although we wish to devote this time with family and friends, we felt it was important to respond to the media coverage of this event. We were deeply troubled by the police department misrepresenting details of the incident in their interviews with the media. We would ask that the police refrain from providing details to the media until a thorough investigation has been completed, preferably by an independent body.
On the night of his death, Jerry heard noise behind the house, and went to investigate. He picked up his gun as protection. While no one in the family was present at the instant of his death, his body was witnessed immediately after, inside his own garage. We were disturbed by suggestions that police may have felt threatened by a man in his own garage faced with unknown trespassers wielding flashlights.
We look forward to a full investigation of this terrible incident that will lead to meaningful steps to ensure that nothing like this will happen again. Beyond the tragedy of his death, we hope that everyone will remember the spirit of Jerry’s life.