Fort Worth Police Shoot And Kill 72-Year-Old Man In His Home After Going To Wrong House On Burglary Call

article-0-1B02434A000005DC-318_634x568Fort Worth officers are claiming in affidavits that they killed an innocent man, Jerry Waller, 72, after going to the wrong house on a burglary charge and mistook Jerry Waller, 72, in the poor lighting at 12:51 am. The incident is drawing criticism and calls for an independent investigation of the two rookie officers.

The home did not have outside lighting and the officers used flashlights to investigate. The encountered Waller near the corner of his garage. The officers insist that they declared themselves to be police and ordered Waller to drop his handgun. They say that he disobeyed their commands and pointed the gun at them. There is no record of Waller actually discharging the weapon.

Both officers have been with the Fort Worth Police Department for less than one year.

One discrepancy is that the officers said that they encountered Waller “at the back of his house near the garage and driveway.” Yet, the autopsy report says that Waller was shot in his garage. That is a significant difference since the chances that they are encountering a homeowner is higher inside the home.

Of course, the officers can argue that even a homeowner can be a threat to their lives if he is pointing a gun at them and not responding to police commands. The problem is that there are only three witnesses and Waller is dead. The only basis to challenge the account will be forensics if the trajectory of the bullet and location of the victim conflict with the sworn statement of the officers.

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Source: Daily Mail

62 thoughts on “Fort Worth Police Shoot And Kill 72-Year-Old Man In His Home After Going To Wrong House On Burglary Call

  1. Hmmm…. Your Florida trigger happy police article followed by a Texas article of the same nature. Between stand your ground laws, give everyone a gun mindsets and shoot em’ up cowboys, these type of reports should become even more commonplace.

  2. Unfortunately I don’t believe the police. I say unfortunately because this has become my default mindset when listening to stories like this. Police are no longer trust worthy or competent. I don’t beleive they identified themselves. I don’t beleive any of it.

    My deepest sympathies to the family of this man. I wish I believed something will actually happen that will make a difference going forward but I don’t beleive it.

    Becuase calling the police can and often does put you and your family at risk what is a law abiding individual to do?

  3. Here is a clear message for NRA. GUNS DON’T SAVE; at least not among a trigger happy group of people and officers in this country.

  4. Sounds like the officers have violated this mans Federal Civil Rights. I am certain President Obama will not stand for this. I expect he will make a speech or comment on the matter tomorrow. Otherwise, I agree with Justice Holmes.

  5. I don’t trust the police either in their testimony when their competence, or what they are trying to prove, is at question.

    Unfortunately, the professional and official deciders of these things automatically give them a presumption of credibility and of good faith.

    That causes them to win in circumstances where no civilian would ever have prevailed.

  6. He was shot inside of his garage and the officers are trying to cover this ou with lies….

  7. There is nothing about a situation that the cops can’t make worse. In my city of Madison, WI, a cop recently killed a musician who was drunk and went to a neighbor’s house thinking it was his. The homeowner called 911 before recognizing his neighbor. He was walking the guy home when the police showed up and shot the guy! Of course, a police “investigation” exonerated the officer. It was through public outrage that the officer was forced to resign but only after other “bullying” incidents came to light.

    http://www.nbc15.com/news/crimetracker/headlines/BREAKING-NEWS-Officer-Involved-Shooting-In-Madison-178068981.html

  8. This has been going on ad nauseum in communities of color for years. Maybe now that it’s happening to white middle class folk, more people will start paying attention and fight for the demilitarization of our “community” civil police.

  9. Officers should be taught that guns can also maim and disable the attacker. They currently think guns are only for killing.

  10. The homeowner was found dead with a gun. The statement that he had the gun before he was dead comes from the police who shot him. I would be less unhappy if there was coborrabation of that and I did not suspect that before the shooting there was a homeowner with no guns and two cops with three guns.

  11. I am shocked by the number of comments wanting to disarm Mr. Waller, as if that would somehow offer him more protection. The fault here is not Mr. Waller arming himself, but trigger happy policemen who now are probably lying to cover up what happened. Police basically have a license to kill, and they should be trained to show more restraint. They bark orders at people and assume that the people they bark orders at fully understand what they want them to do. When they don’t comply, they get rough and tough. It happens all the time. It is human nature, and they must be trained to avoid this kind of dangerous behavior that results from the authority given to them.

  12. Two rookies is a key fact. Two rookies should not have been on the scene w/o more experienced officers present. I know folks like to make this a philosophical case. Philosophical arguments are always important. However, first one needs to look @ the facts causing this tragedy. Two rookies, IMO, tops the list. Then wax philosophical.

  13. I have to go with the consensus that this doesn’t pass the smell test and say “rookie screw up/cover up”.

  14. The best way to stop an old guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

    davidm2575,

    “…they must be trained to avoid this kind of dangerous behavior that results from the authority given to them.”

    You mean, like the entire population of Florida, who “…basically have a license to kill…”?
    What could possibly go wrong?

    In related news:
    http://www.duffelblog.com/2013/07/george-zimmerman-joseph-kony/?utm_source=The+Duffel+Blog+Email+Newsletter&utm_campaign=f2ca45a7ad-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_6128900c72-f2ca45a7ad-23602325

  15. Isn’t clear that the police are a bunch of thugs? Their primary purpose is to intimidate all of us all the time. All government authorities want to intimidate all of us all the time. Obviously government authorities want to keep the police the way they are. Otherwise government authorities would clean up this terrible mess.

  16. 1. I wouldn’t make much of the supposed discrepancy between the search warrant affidavit and the autopsy. The affidavit is not signed by the officers who responded so it’s not too surprising or unusual for it to be somewhat vague as to location.

    2. I’d be shocked if this is a throw down gun. There’s been no suggestions from the family of such and they’d know if the victim owned a gun and whether the gun found was his.

    3. Two rookie cops is an issue. I’d like to see how this came about. I wonder whether rookies tend to get the night shift.

    4. Cops shot Waller multiple times in rapid succession. Police policy seems to be if you fire your weapon to keep shooting until the target is on the ground. However, in real life, it takes a second or two after shot to fall and the cops may shoot someone multiple times in the interlude. Before cops shifted to semi-automatics, it seems like cops fired a lot fewer bullets and not as quickly. Is shoot to kill always the best policy?

    5. Cops at wrong house. How’d they screw that up?

    6. Perhaps people who are suddenly awakened in the middle of the night, think there may be a burglary in progress, are blinded by high power flashlights in their eyes, and shouting from two unknown persons in their back yard don’t immediately recognize who is doing the shouting. I believe Waller had a gun and the cops identified themselves, but I’m not sure whether Waller ever understood or pointed his gun at cop. Cops need to recognize when their trespassing in someone’s back yard in the middle of the night that there’s a very good chance they’ll encounter the homeowner. I wonder whether the instructions/training of when to shoot need to be tighter. A guy with a gun who doesn’t immediately respond to your shouted instructions should not be reason to kill. Even if Waller did raise gun and point in general direction of a cop, I wonder whether should hold fire, back off/take cover, and continue to identify selves as police.

    7. Too bad their is no home surveillance video. I’m beginning to think that it might not be a bad idea for homeowners to install video surveillance around their houses. Even if the guy had lived, I doubt a jury is going to believe his story over two cops, unless there was video evidence.

    8. One of the rookies is a son of a FW police captain.

  17. “shot inside his garage and the cops are trying to cover up with lies”

    To be fair, they’re transparently clumsy lies. After all, they’re only rookies.

    They’ll get better at lying after a few more years on the force.

  18. “I’m beginning to think that it might not be a bad idea for homeowners to install video surveillance around their houses.” (Allysa J)

    Installed mine a few years ago. Lots of excellent and inexpensive equipment out there from which to choose. As one of my prosecutor buddies told me … nothing beats “black ‘n whites”.

    Also … last summer I heard strange noises late at night from the backyard. No need to go the the window or door or expose myself in any way … simply check the screen shots then call the cops. Turned out to be 2 drunk teenagers trying to find their way home. Camera caught one of them pissing in my rose garden. Parents came over the next day with young man to apologize. The agreed restitution … he had to shovel my driveway every time the snow fall was 2″ or more last winter. Security system paid for itself!

  19. Hell, if you live in The Cleve, the city should pay for the video surveillance in every residence. And as Blouise said, the technology is superb now and not very expensive. I’ve seen video surveillance from nascent stage to now. Much of the early technology came from the medical field and arthroscopic surgery.

  20. There is something fundamentally wrong in the fact this tragedy, probably worse than a tragedy, is a completely different story if the dead person is Black as opposed to White. Or, frankly, Black as opposed to anything else.

  21. People, People, People! They were two rookies. They just probably wanted to know what it’s like to shoot somebody. Now that they have it out of their system they can settle down and concentrate on just being cops.
    Remember when police use to retire from the force after 25 or 30 years and say they never had to unholster their guns once? Those days are long gone.

  22. Sam 1:
    “Here is a clear message for NRA. GUNS DON’T SAVE; at least not among a trigger happy group of people and officers in this country.”

    Guns do save lives. We don’t know how often for certain, but we know it happens. I can match this anecdote with many going the opposite direction.

    “Officers should be taught that guns can also maim and disable the attacker. They currently think guns are only for killing.”

    Shooting to wound isn’t practical and creates its own problems. Television and movies are not good models for how people should use firearms.

  23. Blouise,
    Why should I have to buy an expensive monitoring system when I can buy a gun and get shot by police while allegedly holding that gun?! I think Forth Worth should be digging deep in their pockets for this wrongful death.

  24. What a terrible tragedy.

    Why did the Fort Worth PD have two rookie officers responding to the call?

  25. Cops are pathological liars when they are trying to cover up their mistakes.Don’.t believe their lies. Fire these two trigger happy rookie punks

  26. Let me give some perspective to people upthread who seem to think this was some kind of thrill killing, or attribute some other nefarious motive. I had a long conversation with an experienced police training officer this afternoon. We discussed this blog among other things. I had some theories, but asked for his opinion on incidents like that without telling him my take on it. I was not particularly surprised when his experiences and ideas coincided with mine.

    He noted that all too many departments seek out young officers. They don’t have to pay them as much, for one thing. Some departments have had problems with returning combat veterans. Veterans are, for the most part, highly skilled with firearms, but as the training officer observed, they tend to be scared to death. Spending the past two years seeing the guy (or gal) standing next to you being shot or blown up with some frequency will do that to a kid. Talk to an old grey haired officer, and they will tell you they have taken their sidearm out of the holster maybe two or three times in twenty years. The rookie or n00b thinks they need to approach every stopped car as if it is full of fully armed Taliban. Some of them seem to think that police work is like a TV action drama. Or that day-to-day corrections work is like the series “Lock Up” on MSNBC. Its not. Those are training issues that all too many departments neglect. In fact, in some departments, training is all but non-existent.

    It is thankless work for low pay, lousy hours, and risk. It is also a job that comes complete with nightmares. Try to forget the little kid who was ejected from his parent’s car when it flipped at a hundred miles an hour and smeared in a fifteen yard stripe on the pavement. Or the fifteen year old suicide hanging in the family garage. Or the decomposed body found by a fisherman. Those are a few of the benefits of being a police officer. And the pay? Starting salaries are, all too often, little more than minimum wage. After all, city and county governments are run by people who ran–and were elected–on a platform that taxes are evil and the equivalent of stealing from their constituents. Then they wonder why city and county services look more like a third world country than the US we used to know. Our own county sheriff had to sue the county commission to get enough money for such essentials as keeping the jail in operation and putting gas in the patrol cars. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. All too many local law enforcement agencies have had to sue their own city or county government for operating expenses.

    Some departments are rotten from the top down. We saw a lot of that during the Occupy Wall Street protests around the country. NYPD squandered all the good will and sympathy they got following the 9-11 attacks.

    Monday morning quarterbacking is easy. If you want to know what is going on and make a difference, do some volunteer work as a reserve officer for one of your local departments. Or get a job as a police or correctional officer. Or even run for office in your local government.

  27. SSDD:

    ‘It was like a firing squad’: Deputies shoot Florida man in his own front yard”

    “State law enforcement officials in Florida are investigating the shooting of a 60-year-old man inside his front yard by deputies with the sheriff’s office in Escambia County.

    “It was like a firing squad,” the victim, Roy Middleton, told the Pensacola News Journal on Saturday. “Bullets were flying everywhere.”

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/07/29/it-was-like-a-firing-squad-deputies-shoot-florida-man-in-his-own-front-yard/

  28. Ha! remind myself to read the (whole) blawg before I post- the case I linked to was treated in a different thread. Hmmm, ‘great minds…’ and all.

  29. This is a case of we’ll have to wait for the investigation to find out more answers, and it is likely not to be complete in this no matter how good or well intentioned it might be.

    There is also the possibility the homeowner mistook the officers for suspects, rightly or wrongly and drew down upon the officers, who then believed the homeowner was actually a burglar bent on shooting them. I don’t know if it is this way or not. But it is possible.

    There are times where boths sides might be acting rationally but come to the wrong conclusions and a tradgedy unfolds. I’ve seen this happen myself, but in the few cases I was on it was a lot of luck that someone didn’t get hurt.

  30. Where are the pro-death penalty types now, the ones who want “an eye for an eye”? Why aren’t they calling for the same when pi…uh, cops are the murderers?

  31. @rafflaw: “Why should I have to buy an expensive monitoring system when I can buy a gun and get shot by police while allegedly holding that gun?!”

    Heck, why not get both? If you buy both a camera system and a firearm, your family would then have an entertaining video of you being shot while holding that firearm. On second thought, there’s really no need for you to own an actual firearm; an itchy-fingered cop who would hunt a man down in his own garage is probably just as likely to shoot you for failing to put down a cordless drill.

  32. @Otteray Scribe: Apparently sufficient funding is unavailable for basic screening and training of police officers. Sadly, I am also aware that even small municipalities often invest heavily in riot gear and other expensive, paramilitary, “counter-terrorist” equipment and training, which do nothing to make those officers better able to perform their actual jobs, and may arguably make them less fit to do so. For many departments, a reordering of budget priorities would seem to be in order.

  33. Gina,
    Our state makes pre-hire screening mandatory. It’s the law. I do the psych screenings for many departments, both large and small in our end of the state. Interestingly, in our area we have a very low incidence of violent or incompetent officers, although the turnover is quite high in most departments. For one thing, I do not charge what the screenings are worth for my time and trouble, barely breaking even. That makes it easier for the departments I work with to get all officers screened.

  34. rafflaw

    Blouise,
    Why should I have to buy an expensive monitoring system when I can buy a gun and get shot by police while allegedly holding that gun?! I think Forth Worth should be digging deep in their pockets for this wrongful death.

    ————————————————————————————-

    Buy a cheap monitoring system … they work just as well as the expensive ones.

    RLC made an excellent point in his post on one of these recent threads … suggesting that with all these concealed carry laws increasing the numbers of armed citizens, cops are understandable more jumpy when dealing with everyday situations. That’s not an excuse … it’s a factor.

    What was this 72 year old man going to do if he did encounter burglars? What was he thinking? There was no outside lighting, none of the reports I read said he was carrying a flashlight. Was he hoping to scare them away, catch them, shoot them? Most burglars are young people, right? He’s 72 with the reaction time of an elderly man … did he think his gun was going to even the odds? Did he consider that the burglars might also be armed? Was he counting on the element of surprise working in his favor? I think we can safely assume he wasn’t expecting to encounter police which is understandable since he hadn’t bothered to report anything to the police.

    In short, raf, I don’t know that the city is just going to just roll over and pay.

    So, if I were you, I’d deep six the purchase of a gun and take the wife out for a nice dinner complete with an expensive bottle of wine. Celebrate Life!

  35. Darren,

    You’re probably right…. But it’s not common field practice to send two rookies on patrol alone…. And another thing with this one case…. The man was shot in his garage close to the house door….. If I recall the outside lights were broken… But the garage light was on….

  36. I called the sheriff’s office once upon hearing what I thought sounded like gun shots a few houses over from mine. I identified myself, and gave my address, noting that I heard the shots coming from north of my house.

    I then took a shower, since it was early morning and I had to go to work. Upon exiting the shower, I heard something, and wrapping a towel around myself, discovered two officers IN MY LIVING ROOM, both with GUNS DRAWN, stalking through my home.

    Luckily the lighting was good and it was plainly clear that I was unarmed. I was able to tell them that a.) I was the one who called them, and b.) they were in the wrong house. They made their apologies and left.

    In another incident with the same sheriff’s department, I was arrested for DUI even though my blood alcohol level was BELOW that considered “Presumed not impaired.” Two out of the three officers on the scene made reports, and BOTH officers lied (made material misstatements of fact) in their reports. Of course, when my toxicology report came back clean for all eleven substances tested, all charges were dropped, but that did NOT make up for the six months of bullshit I had to go through in the meantime.

    I grew up trusting the police and believing that they had peoples’ best interests at heart. Now I consider them liars, thieves and power happy. Congrats, guys.

  37. Search: ABCD… COPS… COMPASS… Fusion Centers

    Then realize all these are communitarian programs spawned from ‘Weed ‘n’ Seed’ and Neighborhood CrimeWatch groups. Some of you may want to look into the behind-the-scene roles JINSA, ADL, and JDL have played… in altering mission statements… the restructuring of policies and procedures manuals… and then the all-new guidelines per the ‘use of force continuum’.

    Texas Moms United has it right with her use of this word ‘community’ – it’s unethical AND completely un-American. So long as these ultra-militarized, [communitarian-] brainwashed ‘peace officers’ keep at it, we’ll all be shot dead… without a thought or a care… the same as if we were Palestinians.

    After, of course, these animals have shot your dog, rifled your home, and scared the hell out of your neighbors.

  38. I remember when I was growing up, that beginning of a sentence always gives away age) we were taught to respect the police. Maybe we just didn’t hear about this and it happned then too.
    I feel bad though for what I assume if the majority of policepeople who do do a good job and deserve respect for doing a job most people do not want.
    It has to be hard to run towards when most people are running away.

  39. As long as the Blue Curtain exists, police departments are corrupt because everyone colludes in covering up mistakes and unethical behavior, even if they believe it’s wrong. Individuals who don’t go along to get along, lose their jobs. It’s a totally corrupt system; it automatically and immediately corrupts those who choose to participate in it, no matter how admirable there reasons were for signing up.

  40. unfortunate mistake ? Poor training ? tyranny? Above the law ? You must be the judge, the people must stand up and speak up for what is right. Too many mistakes lately. Buddy systems and unions do not belong in Public Employment paid by the people.

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