Family of man killed by Ft. Worth police files wrongful death suit

The family of 72-year old Jerry Waller has filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit.

Two years ago, Waller was shot and killed after Fort Worth Police Officers Richard Hoeppner and Benjamin Hanlon went to the wrong house during a burglary alarm call.

Waller was shot seven times in his garage. His home was across the street from the address of the home where the burglary call came from, but police mistakenly went to Waller's backyard.

Waller's wife, Kathy, said she heard noises, so Jerry Waller opened the garage door to investigate, armed with a pistol.

"My husband would not point a gun at a policeman," said Kathy Waller.

The lawsuit names several Fort Worth police officers, including Hoeppner, who shot Jerry Waller, and former Fort Worth Police Chief Jeff Halstead. The suit claims that Jerry Waller had already obeyed Hoeppner's instructions to put the gun down.

The family's attorney, Art Brender, produced an animated reconstruction of the shooting.

Brender says Jerry Waller complied with commands to put the gun down and shielded his face from the officers' flashlights.

Using the same gun that Waller held that night, Brender says a wound to Jerry Waller's left hand shows he was not armed at the time he was shot.

Kathy Waller says when she went to the garage and found her husband on the ground, she thought he'd fallen.

She was taken to a police car and later to a hospital over concerns about her health. She learned from an EMT that her husband was dead before she got a visit from a police detective.

"She told me they were going to be very transparent and that it was a police officer that shot my husband," said Kathy Waller.

Police and Halstead, who's now a private consultant, have declined to comment.

A grand jury decided not to indict Hoeppner.

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