Mayor, legal experts weigh in on Fort Worth grandfather shot in his garage

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by TODD UNGER

Bio | Email | Follow: @toddWFAA8

WFAA

Posted on May 30, 2013 at 10:38 PM

FORT WORTH -- As the investigation into an officer-involved shooting that left a 72-year-old grandfather dead continues, there are fresh calls for an outside, third-party review of the incident.

Jerry Waller was killed inside his own garage in the Woodhaven neighborhood early Tuesday morning.

A pair of Fort Worth police officers, who have been on the force less than a year, were responding to a burglary alarm in the area.

The pair was originally dispatched to a home across the street from the Waller's, but for some reason, ended up face-to-face with Waller after he opened his garage door.

Sources say it was Ofc. Richard Hoeppner who opened fire and shot Waller, after feeling threatened because he was carrying a .38-caliber handgun.

Outside legal experts say Waller was legally able to have a gun in his own garage.

"A garage is part of your house -- if someone went into your garage, you would charge them with burglary, so it's part of your house," said Jerry Loftin, a longtime Fort Worth-based defense attorney.

The Waller family has said Waller was carrying a weapon because he and his wife noticed lights and noise outside, and he went to see if burglars were on his property.

The family wants an outside entity to review the case.

Loftin agrees that is the best way to ease concern and end growing speculation that is surrounding the investigation.

"There has to be a review from outside," he told News 8.

On Thursday, Fort Worth police again said they wouldn't provide additional details until after their internal review is finished. That could take at least a few weeks.

Mayor Betsy Price wouldn't go into details about the incident, either.

When asked about whether an outside investigation was warranted, she said, "It's really hard to say... I think the police department will take a look. They generally do an excellent job in their investigations."

What happened between Waller and officers Hoeppner and Ben Hanlon, the other rookie involved, in the moments just before the shooting remains unknown.

The police association told News 8 on Wednesday that they hope the public doesn't rush to judgment, and that more details about what happened will emerge.

E-mail tunger@wfaa.com

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