One year ago, my father was startled from a deep sleep, worried about unknown home intruders. A rookie officer, while blinding my father with flashlights, jumped to many prejudiced conclusions before shooting him. We were deeply offended when we read the young officer’s report. Let us set the record straight.
My father was the bedrock of our family. He worked hard all of his life. From his early twenties he ran small businesses in Oklahoma and Missouri before returning to Fort Worth, the place he always considered home. He drove two hours each way on either end of a 10-hour day. He would tough it out with his employees through the hot, scorching summers, lifting loads of heavy truck tires in 100-degree weather. He never complained about his hard work and everything he earned he gave to his loved ones. He gave his children opportunities he never had, sending us to college and beyond. When our family had difficult times, he didn’t panic, but did what needed to be done – going to get medicine in the middle of the night, standing by in hospital waiting rooms, driving hours out of his way to fix his child’s broken down car. As we remember Jerry Waller, we know his character shone through in his final moments serving and protecting his family.
We are not only suffering because we lost our beloved Jerry. We suffer because we cannot trust a system that promoted dishonesty and perpetuated injustice. The police directly responsible for my father’s death are not the only ones who acted unprofessionally and unethically. We waited eight long months for the city to allow us access to documents that would explain what happened to my father. With so many inconsistent statements, mishandled pieces of evidence and glaring omissions, we can see why the Fort Worth Police Department might want to keep these documents under wraps. Our resolve to get justice for my father has only grown. Our blood has boiled as we listened to false statements fed to the media that aimed to make this case sound tidy and closed. Jerry Waller was protecting his family in the early hours of May 28th. This case is not closed for our family or this community.
Often the only thing that provides comfort through our sadness and anger is the memory of the man we lost. My father’s last day was a peaceful Memorial Day with my mother and my brother and his children. My dad started the day in the front yard hanging the American flag to honor our veterans. After a morning of planting flowers, he grilled big steaks for everyone plus a little extra for his devoted dogs. It was a beautiful, clear day and the pool was warm enough for him to take a swim. My dad had a full summer of projects he planned to do around the house. Before he fell asleep that night, he told my mom what a good day it had been.
We are touched by all of the people who have stood behind my father and supported our family. We are especially thankful for our neighbors who have been here for us in our time of need. We mourn the loss of Jerry Waller every day. We wish we had another chance to tell him how much we will always love him and how grateful we are for everything he did for us.