Grand jury declines to indict officer who shot man at wrong house

Jan. 30, 2014 at 11:00 AM

FORT WORTH, Texas, Jan. 30 (UPI) -- A grand jury in Texas' Tarrant County decided to not charge a Fort Worth police officer who fatally shot a 72-year-old man during a burglary investigation.

Jerry Waller died on May 28 after being shot by officer R.A. "Alex" Hoeppner, the Dallas Morning News reported.

Police said Hoeppner and his partner, Ben Hanlon, were responding to a burglar alarm and went to Waller's home instead of one across the street.

Waller, armed with a handgun, "went to his garage to investigate and was fatally shot by one of the officers," the district attorney's office said.

After a week of deliberations, the grand jury declined to indict Hoeppner on charges for Weller's death, the Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram reported.

Police Chief Jeff Halstead said he was pleased with the grand jury's decision.

"I think it was proven through the autopsy and evidence that a gun was pointed directly at officer Hoeppner and he was forced to make his decision," Halstead said.

Halstead has been criticized for not releasing more information on the incident or commenting publicly on the case.

"I've been doing this career for 25 years -- five years here as chief -- and nothing has weighed so heavily on my conscience because the pain that this family is going through," Halstead said. "I wanted to give them answers immediately and if they're frustrated or mad at us, we only waited out of sincere respect for them and the investigative process."

Art Brender, an attorney for the Waller family, released a statement Wednesday on behalf of Waller's family.

"Kathy Waller and the Waller family do not have any comment to make on the Grand Jury decision concerning the Fort Worth police officer who shot and killed Jerry Waller in his garage this past Memorial Day at this time," Brender wrote. "They will comment at the appropriate time after the completion of the investigation being undertaken on behalf of the Waller family."

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