Fort Worth Officer Involved in Shooting of Homeowner Fired

Officer terminated over alleged false police report in traffic stop unrelated to shooting

One of the Fort Worth police officers involved in the fatal shooting of an armed homeowner while at the wrong house during a burglary call in May was fired for filing a false sworn statement about an August arrest, police said Thursday.

Officer Benjamin Hanlon was terminated on Tuesday for lying about finding drugs on a man during an Aug. 9 traffic stop, the department said. In fact, officers at the jail recovered the drugs.

Hanlon was one of two officers involved in the deadly shooting of 73-year-old Jerry Waller in May. The officers mistook Waller for a burglar, and Hanlon's partner, Officer Alex Hoeppner, fatally shot Waller in his driveway.

The officers, both rookies, were responding to a burglary call across the street but inadvertently began searching Waller's property. According to a police affidavit, the officers were at the wrong house because of poor lighting.

Waller's family issued a statement critical of the police account of what happened and called for an independent investigation. Police promised a transparent review but have said little since the incident.

Police Chief Jeffery Halstead said in a statement that intentionally lying on an arrest affidavit is a serious matter.

"It will not be tolerated by any police employee ... much less an officer on probation," he said. "Officer Hanlon did not meet the performance expectations before the completion of his probationary period, and he was terminated."

Hanlon became a Fort Worth police officer in October of last year and was just shy of finishing his one-year probation as a rookie officer. Because he was on probation, he has no right to appeal his firing.

According to personnel records obtained by NBC 5 in August, Hanlon had been rejected by the Fort Worth Police Department twice before he was accepted last year. In addition, an oral review board unanimously said Hanlon should not proceed further in the hiring process, but he joined the academy two months later.

According to the documents, Hanlon admitted he lied about how often he had smoked marijuana in the past, had stolen items as a teenager from Six Flags Over Texas.

He admitted he stole a $150 satellite radio while working at Best Buy.

He also had received five speeding tickets.

Police finished an internal investigation into the shooting of Waller and presented the findings to the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office, police spokesman Sgt. Kelly Peele said.

Prosecutors plan to present the findings to a grand jury, DA's spokeswoman Melody McDonald said.

Police did not announce Hanlon's termination until soon after NBC DFW learned of the firing and asked about it.

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