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Texas Police Enter Wrong House, Kill Armed Homeowner

July 30, 2013  | 

Two Fort Worth Police officers who fatally shot an armed homeowner told investigators that poor lighting caused them to go to the wrong house while investigating a burglary call.

The two officers were sent to 409 Havenwood Lane at 12:51 a.m. on May 28. They began searching the house across the street at 404 Havenwood Lane. They encountered Jerry Waller, 72, who had armed himself with a .38-caliber pistol while standing in his garage.

Officers said they ordered Waller to drop the weapon, but he instead pointed it at the officers. One of the officers fatally shot Waller as he stood in his garage.

Both officers have been on the force for less than a year, reports NBC DFW.

The day after the shooting, the Waller family released a statement to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram saying they were "shocked and deeply saddened" by Waller's "untimely death in the privacy of his own home."

Comments (18)

Displaying 1 - 18 of 18

Rick @ 7/30/2013 4:50 PM

Both officers should be prosecuted for manslaughter; that's the only way to reduce these fatal mistakes that officers keep making. There are far too many incidents where LEO's go to the wrong house and terrorize innocent families.

T.J. Rocker Sr. @ 7/30/2013 5:11 PM

What a ridicules statement to make, charge them with manslaughter and that will reduce these types of mistakes. It is very apparent Rick is not a LEO. Being on a call in the dark hours in a neighbor hood where people have guns and being confronted by one of them is your worst night mare realized. Your options are very limited, also how do you know that you haven’t run into the perp you are there to locate and most likely going to arrest. The statement and terrorizing innocent families. You are really far out there.

Tom Ret @ 7/30/2013 6:15 PM

In police work there is no substitute for experience and this may be a prime example of how a lack of experience contributed to what must be characterized as a questionable shooting by two rookies. It is hard to tell if a more experienced officer or officers would have shot this home owner without knowing more about the original call and how the home owner was dressed etc. Being elderly, the home owner may not have even heard the officers' commands. The home owner is partially responsible for this calamity by venturing out with gun in hand instead of staying inside and calling the police. I don't see the officers facing a manslaughter charge but the city and officers may very well face civil litigation. It is a sad situation for all concerned and should be a learning
experience for others how officer errors can have lethal consequences.

Nick @ 7/30/2013 6:19 PM

TJ, agreed, Rick must have never worn a badge. The word terrorist implies premeditation, criminal intent, among other things. The article gives no insight as to if or how the houses were marked. It also did not say whether they had to force entry or not. Assuming not, that is confirmation #1 to the cops they have the right place. Confirmation #2 was the armed man. Truly, if you are at home and you believe someone is breaking in and you arm yourself and go to the garage... and are then confronted by two uniformed officers who order you to drop the gun... most people will comply. Most people know the result of someone pointing a gun at a police officer. I place no blame on the victim, but I have a hard time condemning thd officers. Its a good faith call with an unfortunate ending. It is hard to judge the split second decision that they made which 100% matches their training. Studies show yiu revert to your training in high stress situations. Those cops were just doing their jobs and following rule #1: go home tonight. Better to be tried by 12 than carried by 6. These guys will have to live with this and I just hope it doesn't make them gun shy the next time lethal force is warranted.

[email protected] @ 7/30/2013 8:43 PM

Rick, first off, you weren't there. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, as is monday morning q'backing but both serve zip. Try looking around in the dark for someone who may or may not be armed, or wired, or just setting you up, then tell us all how YOU would have handled it. Blues, Stay Safe.

Randy @ 7/30/2013 11:51 PM

Ok, Rick & TJ are both wrong. And TJ, just so you know, I was on the job for a long time. Now, you can't just say the officers were dead wrong as that is not what you say when you don't know literately any of the facts.

I do believe there are a couple of side points to make here though. First off the police are human too and any investigation needs to include and remember that. 2nd, the police get their power from the people. So, you folks that currently do or have worn a badge, please step back and stop your rederick with excuses. There were no hostages, this was a burglary call. Figure out where your supposed to be...! If you don't know where your at STOP WHAT YOUR DOING AND SEEK ASSISTANCE. It is not the cops vrs the citizens. Cops are not always right. If a citizen screws up and shoots the wrong person he will pay the price from the DA's office. Just because we're cops don't mean we can screw up and say "its ok, we thought we were doing the right thing".

3rd, while I admit I don't know the facts of this case, I HIGHLY DOUBT that this old man armed himself and when he saw the cops decided he should point his gun at them. So what does this leave us with? It leaves us with these two officers putting in their report that the old man raised his firearm at them and thus it was self defense. Really? Brothers & Sisters, don't lie to cover up your mistakes. Take them like a man (or woman). The continued arrogance of good cops who screw up and hide it instantly become bad cops. The public are our leaders and we work for them. Claiming another poster is "far out there" is not the right attitude. I know that you know that there are a lot of wrong addresses where inocent familys have been hurt one way or another by our brothers. Everyone's attitude needs to change or this will get worse and worse. (this is a 2 part post, please see the next post....)

Randy @ 7/30/2013 11:54 PM

(continued from my last post) The good people of this country have a constitutional right to keep and bear arms, we can't just shoot them because we don't know what the hell we're doing out there...! Brothers and sisters we need to stop this attitude that its us against them. If we don't change ourselves, someone is eventually going to change us.

mike @ 7/31/2013 4:34 AM

POLICE are so-called professuionals, they state this in court all the time, yet when the POLICE F***-UP, they come up with EXCUSES that take the lives of INNOCENT civilians, and you know all they did was LAUGH are the dead civilian back in the locker room, these so called professionals must be charged with manslaughter, they invaded an innocents home...they are professionals, they are to KNOW better, they are to ACT better, NO EXCUSES this time evermore

mike @ 7/31/2013 5:07 AM

Owning a gun comes with the responsibility of knowing when and how to use it. I believe in the right to be armed and to protect yourself and your property, but common sense should tell you to not go out of the house hunting these individuals. Stay inside and let the professionals do their job. Use deadly force if necessary to protect yourself and your family if the bad guys break into your home not the garage. Proper training requires knowing when to drop your gun and not aim it at police officers. These incidents are going to happen, but they can be reduced if people who have guns remember that police when confronted by armed individuals have few options, and only seconds to make life changing decisions. Prayers for the family and the two officers as well.

Greg @ 7/31/2013 5:28 AM

Problems: it was too dark to determine the address of the house, but light enough to know the senior citizen has a weapon and it was pointed at them? Well, what was it?

These 2 newbies should have been out on their own...they needed a more senior officer to guide them vs. babies with less than a year on the force (which after training etc. is not very long on the street).

Seems like a lot more incidents are going on: female officer tries to break a glass window with her Glock (finger on trigger while doing this)...shoots and kills woman in the kitchen..she was at the wrong house. Officer shoots a college student in the face with his M-16 by accident..finger on trigger also. Luckily the student lived by permanently physically "challenged". 14 year old zip-tied laying on the floor, shot in the back by M-16, killed...oops, wrong house. Won't even go into all the dogs being shot.

I don't know what's going on, but a lot of retraining needs to be done when it comes to gun handling and general good judgement. I sure don't recall as many wrong house/innocents shot when I was in the "old days"...friendly fire is never justified.

Firecop @ 7/31/2013 5:51 AM

Somehow I think there's more to this story. Were the investigators clearly identifiable as police officers? Was the civilian properly trained in what to do when confronted with police officers ordering him to lay down his firearm? Too many unanswered questions in this brief article and we weren't there, so we aren't qualified to pass judgement. Stay safe.

Retcop @ 7/31/2013 7:23 AM

Randy you are dead on point.

1234 @ 7/31/2013 7:52 AM

Firecop...You are the only one, that I believe, has a clue about reality. How in the world can anyone make a call about this incident from less than 4 sentences of information? Human beings make mistakes. Poor judgement sometimes prevails from either party involved in a situation like that. I think law enforcement has been lulled into thinking that we have to be perfect. In doing so, we can't admit to making mistakes or we hesitate in doing the things that we should do in life threatening situations. We make split second judgement calls. All of them won't be favorable and some may be suspect. The atmosphere that has been created, makes "some" of the public automatically assume that we are going to try to justify our actions by any means. Let the media and those who have their personal agendas make judgement before all the facts are known. Not us.

George @ 7/31/2013 7:54 AM

I agree with you Randy 100%. We have all been in that situation and have had to rely on our training to get out. I always wanted to be first and always, always used a ballistic shield. We did not know what or who was in there or if they had anything to do with the call, complaint or investigation. It sounds like these boys f-ed up and using the "he raised his gun" excuse does not aways work.

Ima Leprechaun @ 7/31/2013 8:06 AM

This is where case law comes from. This isn't the first time this has happened and it wont be the last. The homeowner had every right to protect himself and his home. Given the same circumstances and if I were the resident I would have shot first and asked questions later since anyone can claim to be the Police in the dark. I would be more than willing to bet the officers had flashlights shinning in this guys face so he could not see who was talking to him. So sad but it's going to happen more and more with so many gun states electing to arm citizens.

Doug @ 8/7/2013 7:06 AM

I don't believe for one minute that a old man, who was being told by police to drop the weapon would raise it at them. Just like Randy Weaver at Ruby Ridge and Koresh at Waco, the Barney Fifes are told to shoot first and ask questions later. Nothing will be done because cold blooded murder is justified because the police say it is.

NJmotorcop @ 8/7/2013 12:07 PM

Lots of unjustified comments here but also lots of good questions being asked. Hopefully, justice will prevail in the end.

This is very sloppy police work from the beginning. The wrong house? Looking for 409 but going to 404? Maybe being in a small town is different than Fort Worth but don't they have any kind of numbering system or is it just random? In my town, if the street runs north and south then the odd numbers are on the east side of the street and if the street runs east and west then the odd numbers are on the south side of the street. I can't believe that Fort Worth has no such system and if they do why don't their cops know it?

In addition, our dispatchers have a book that shows the location of all houses and buildings in town. A rookie (or an out-of-town officer coming in to assist) can say "Spot 164 Glen Road for me" and he will get a response like "Fourth house on right going north from Main". With the exception of somebody changing the number sign on your house, there is never a valid excuse for us to be at the wrong house.

Shooting a 72 year old man? While he could have been a burglar he doesn't fit the usual profile and that should have gotten the officers thinking. I once went on a similar call and saw a lady pointing a gun at me through a large bay window as I walked across her front lawn. My partner yelled "police, drop the gun". She was the complainant, not the burglar. When she hesitated I lit myself up so she could see we really were cops and she immediately put her gun away and let us into the house. I don't know if the officers here had that option but the fact is we must be absolutely sure before we used force against what might be an innocent citizen especially when there is reason to doubt that he knows who we are. Yelling "police" doesn't cut it in my house. As far as I'm concerned you're just a man with a gun until I can identify your uniform or see your face on your departmental photo ID card.

Lenny @ 8/9/2013 9:20 PM

Poor lighting you say @ 12:51 am. That may be a problem this time of year, unless you're in northern Greenland. Good thing the shooter is the son of a retired training captain in Fort Worth or something might actually be done.

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