Vigil marks year since homeowner killed by Fort Worth police

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by TODD UNGER

Bio | Email | Follow: @toddWFAA8

WFAA

Posted on May 28, 2014 at 9:57 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 28 at 11:04 PM

FORT WORTH — Close to 75 family and neighbors from Havenwood Lane gathered at a candlelight vigil on Wednesday night to remember Jerry Waller, the husband and grandfather who was killed in his own garage by Fort Worth police.

The somber gathering marked nearly a year since Waller was accidentally shot by a rookie Fort Worth officer.

His widow, Kathy Waller, spoke briefly to the group, saying she will never recover from that "nightmare" night.

"There are nights when I hear the shots in my sleep," she said. "I thought it was someone hitting the garage door, but it was bullets going into my husband, and that sound is going to be with me the rest of my life."

Angie Waller, the victim's daughter, read from a prepared statement criticizing Fort Worth police and the city for taking eight months to release documents that she said are "filled with holes."

"Our resolve to get justice for my father has only grown," she added.

In January, a grand jury declined to indict Officer Richard Hoeppner in connection with the shooting.

Documents obtained by News 8 earlier this year revealed that Waller refused to obey commands when it came to securing his handgun, and that after initially setting it down, he lunged to pick it up again. That caused Hoeppner to open fire, fearing his own safety.

But many neighbors dispute the details of what the police say happened.

"To start with, they did go to the wrong address?" asked one neighbor who preferred not to be identified.

Hoeppner and another officer were responding to a burglary call across the street, but instead ended up Waller's property.

The police department blamed a GPS mapping program for the error.

The Waller family has always said that Jerry walked into the garage armed because he didn't know who was on his property making noise and shining flashlights.

The Waller family is conducting its own investigation, and a civil case could be filed in the future.

E-mail tunger@wfaa.com

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