I have always been a supporter of law enforcement at the city, county and state levels. They place their lives on the line every day in order to keep a relative sense of peace and order in our society. Without the police, we would be a nation of anarchists and criminals (other than the ones in Washington D.C.).
However, police are human and sinners and sometimes they act wrongfully and in the case of two Fort Worth, Texas police officers, an innocent man died.
Jerry Waller, 73 years young, and his wife Kathy had gone to bed Monday night like they always did. Shortly after midnight, they were woken by a neighbor’s burglar alarm and bright light. Like a good neighbor, Waller grabbed his handgun and went to his garage to investigate the alarm. Waller lives across the street from the where the alarm was sounding. He was still behind his own house when the next thing he knew, two rookie police officers had opened fire on him, shooting him 6 times in the chest. Waller was instantly killed.
Kathy Waller, the grieving widow, told the local news:
“I think the police made a terrible mistake.”
“Somebody just got a little trigger happy, and away they go.”
Cpl Tracey Knight of the Fort Worth Police Department defended the actions of the two officers by saying:
“He was armed with a handgun and officers feared for their safety. They felt threatened, and that’s when they shot him.”
“Officers did follow policies and procedures according to burglary alarm calls. Two officers were dispatched. Both were driving marked police cars. Both were in full police uniforms. They identified themselves as police officers. I don’t know what lead to this tragic event.”
The two police officers involved were both rookies with less than a year’s experience on the police force. According to the reports, the two officers have been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.
Are we supposed to understand that proper police procedure is to shoot someone before talking to them or finding out who they are and what they’re doing? When did the two officers identify themselves – as they were shooting or before? They claimed they feared for their lives when they say Waller with his gun, but aren’t they supposed to try to capture people alive if possible?
I don’t see anything about this incident that looks like proper police procedure. It looks like two rookie cops panicked and reacted to Jerry Waller before they thought about what they were doing. If that is the case, then neither of these two officers have any business being on the street in uniform.
If Jerry Waller had opened fire on an innocent person like the two officers did, he would be sitting in jail facing charges. From the evidence given so far, I believe these two officers should also be sitting in jail facing charges for the wrongful death of Jerry Waller. I’ll be curious to see what the police investigation turns up and how they will attempt to exonerate the two officers.