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Homeowner, 72, mistakenly killed by Texas police shot 7 times

By Deanna Boyd

Fort Worth Star-Telegram

LAST UPDATED: 11:48 a.m. HST, Oct 31, 2013

FORT WORTH, Texas » A 72-year-old man was shot seven times by Fort Worth police as they searched for a possible burglar at the wrong house, according to an an autopsy report obtained today by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Jerry Wayne Waller suffered three gunshot wounds to the chest, single gunshot wounds to the right abdomen and left hand, and two grazing wounds to the left wrest and left forearm, the report states.

Though toxicology results were not released by the county, the autopsy report indicates that Waller had only diphenhydramine — or antihistamine — in his urine and that his blood tested negative for ethanol (alcohol) or drugs.

Rookie officers R. P. Hoeppner and Benjamin Hanlon were responding a burglary alarm at 409 Havenwood Lane shortly before 1 a.m. on May 28 when they "inadvertently began searching" across the street at 404 Havenwood Lane, Waller's home, according to a previously released search warrant affidavit.

Suspecting a prowler was outside, Waller, armed with a gun, had apparently gone to investigate when the shooting occurred.

The affidavit states officers, with only the illumination of their flashlights to see, encountered an armed Waller near the corner of the home.

The officers identified themselves as police and ordered Waller to drop the gun but he instead pointed the handgun at Hoeppner, prompting Hoeppner to fire, the affidavit states.

Waller was pronounced dead at the scene.

Family members have accused police of misrepresenting the facts, stating Waller had never even stepped out of his garage when he was shot multiple times just feet from his kitchen door.

In early August, police handed their case over to the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office, who plans to present it to a grand jury to determine if any criminal charges will be sought in the case.

Hoeppner remains on active duty with the police department.

Hanlon was fired by Police Chief Jeff Halstead on Oct. 8 after officials say a department investigation found he falsified an arrest affidavit in connection with an August traffic stop.

According to Fort Worth police, Hanlon stated in the affidavit that drugs were found on an arrested person at the traffic stop location. The drugs, however, were found while the person was being booked into jail, police have said.

Hanlon's firing came just four days before his probationary period with the department was to end, leaving him no right to appeal.

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