There's no doubt that rookie Fort Worth cop Alex Hoeppner screwed up spectacularly on the morning of May 28. He and his partner, also a rookie, responded to the wrong house for a burglary call. When he encountered a man with a gun near the garage he opened fire, discovering only afterward the person he'd shot seven times was the homeowner, 72-year-old Jerry Waller.
But was Hoeppner's screw-up criminal? A grand jury thinks not. On Wednesday afternoon, the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office announced that, after hearing 25 hours of testimony over four days, the panel declined to indict Hoeppner on criminal charges.
Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead released a statement and spoke with media about the shooting, saying it has "bothered me literally every day that I work."
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Hoeppner and his partner, Benjamin Hanlon (who was fired for filing a false statement in an unrelated report) encountered what they perceived to be a threat and reacted.
"They had milliseconds to make a decision, and they will endure that second guessing of themselves for the rest of their career," he told Fox 4.
In a statement, the Waller family said they are undertaking an investigation of their own and declined further comment.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.