TX: David Wilson, who Shot and Killed Officer, Acquitted after Jury Trial

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TX: David Wilson, who Shot and Killed Officer, Acquitted after Jury Trial IMG iStock-884200682

U.S.A.-(AmmoLand.com)- On March 5, 2019, Officer Nathan Heidelberg and another officer responded to an alarm call at about 1:16 a.m. The officers checked the backyard of the residence. They did not find a problem. The residence is a large single-family home with outbuildings. Then the officers checked the front door. They found it was unlocked. An alarm went off. The officers backed off.

Then Officer Heidelberg announced himself and attempted to enter the residence. The homeowner, David Charles Wilson, now alerted, fired a shot in the direction of the front door. The shot struck Officer Heidelberg. He was pronounced dead about an hour later. From newswest9.com:

The homeowner, David Charles Wilson, was inside the residence at this time and admitted to firing his handgun in the direction of Officer Heidelberg.

On May 2, 2019, a grand jury indicted David Wilson for the death of Officer Heidelberg.  Here is the statement of Wilson’s attorney, from ketk.com:

Wilson’s attorney later said Wilson was defending his home and mistook Heidelberg for an intruder. 

In September of 2019, Wilson’s attorney filed a motion to quash the manslaughter indictment stating that the alarm system in Wilson’s home had malfunctioned and mistakenly alerted the police. According to that motion, Wilson was not aware that his alarm company had called the police and the malfunctioning alarm happened in the pool house, which is on a separate alarm system from the main house. 

That motion went on to state that Heidelberg and another officer first checked the backyard, but the gate was locked. The officers then went to the front of the house where they tried the front door and found it to be unlocked. Once the officers opened the front door, a door alarm chimed, and, according to the brief, the chime woke Wilson’s wife, who then woke him and said she thought someone was in the house.

“Mr. and Mrs. Wilson can hear and see silhouettes outside with flashlights,” the brief said. “But they have no idea who is outside, what they are saying, or what they are doing. There were no red and blue police lights.”

Wilson’s attorney said the front door was opened by the officers twice, and that Wilson fired when the door was opened the second time. 

Officer Victoria Allee was there and had a body camera on. From newswest9.com:

Allee was also questioned by the prosecution and the defense. The witness testified that the two of them had initially checked the back door and found it locked before she suggested they check the front door.

According to Allee, she touched the handle of the front door and it opened, causing a voice alert about the door being opened to go off.

Heidelberg closed the door and the two called for backup, while Allee said she noticed someone inside the house.

Officer Heidelberg then announced himself, saying “Midland Police, come to the sound of my voice”. Moments later a shot is fired, hitting him in the chest.

This appears to be a case of considerable randomness in the Universe, all combining to create a tragedy. A malfunctioning alarm system an hour and a half after midnight, a door left unlocked, an officer who announced, but not loud enough to be clearly heard or understood, and a husband who thought he was protecting his home. The case went to trial in 2021.

The jury was not out for very long. From foxnews.com:

After about 90 minutes of deliberation, a jury agreed with defendant David Wilson’s claim of self-defense, believing Officer Nathan Heidelberg was a home intruder in the early hours of March 5, 2019, KOSA-TV of Odessa, Texas reported.

The world is not perfect. Bad things can happen to good people.

The jury appears to have understood that compounding more punishment on the Wilson family will not bring back Officer Heidelberg.

In the United States, officers must assume the owners/residents of a home are armed and willing to defend their domicile. Entering domiciles without clear announcement and legal notice to the owners/residents is an invitation for them to open fire.  Tragic occurrences such as what happened to Officer Heidelberg, are bound to happen, especially in the wee hours of the morning, when people are wakened from sleep, and most suspicious of home intruders.

The ability to defend your home is part of the core of the Second Amendment. Defense of self, home, community, and nation are all reasons included in the purposes of the Second Amendment.

One reason, the ability to form well-regulated militias, is mentioned in the present participle of the sentence. It does not restrict the right of the people to keep and bear arms, it merely mentions one use of the right.

Just because a person is a law enforcement/peace officer does not grant them immunity from mistakes or from bullets.

This case did not involve any violation of Constitutional rights, prior to the shooting.

It does not appear anything anyone did, in this case, was illegal or evil. Mistakes were made on both sides, understandable mistakes.

What happened seems to have been reasonably clear to the jury.

It appears the universe conspired against Officer Nathan Heidelberg. He and other officers’ mistakes contributed to the horrible events. He did not deserve to be killed. His death was tragic.

What happened to the Wilson family is clear. They were punished by the prosecutor and the process.

It seems David Wilson was charged and brought to trial because Officer Heidelberg was a police officer. It seems unlikely if the people at the door had been someone else, perhaps neighbors, or relatives, that David Wilson would have been charged.

David Wilson and his family did not deserve to have to spend tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars for his defense, and go through the deep legal uncertainty of prosecution and trial for two years.

There is a lesson for other officers.  Officers must clearly announce themselves to people in a residence before attempting entry.  It is the correct thing to do.

There is a lesson for home defenders as well.

Do not shoot wildly at someone in a doorway, when you do not know what is going on.


About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean Weingarten

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Arny

As I stated before having the lights flashing would let the homeowner know there is a police presence. So easy to help save a life. Even if there was a intruder on the grounds that may run away. The possible intruder will eventually enter the wrong home. At least the police & homeowners would be more aware on who’s there.

Wiregrass

Owns a shitty alarm system and leaves the door unlocked. Smart move.

JPM

“Do not shoot wildly at someone in a doorway, when you do not know what is going on.”??? Really? That’s the lesson here? If anyone is standing in my doorway in my houses at 1:16 A.M. when my wife and I are asleep in bed, they WILL likely get shot. I am not going to stop and ask questions, like, “Oh hello, how can I help you?” or, “Who are you?” and most rational thinking people would either. Really Dean you usually write with some common sense and intelligence, but your conclusion/lesson to be learned in this case, must have… Read more »

Arny

Let’s hope a family member doesn’t come to your home unannounced on a drunken stupor with friends dropping them off. Or a neighbor in trouble. And you forgot to lock the door. Now if they are kicking my door in that is another ball game. I don’t have visitors or relatives come to my home very often. But I still want to know who I am shooting. I have forgotten to lock my door numerous times. And have a highly traveled road less than 50 yards from my front door. Maybe the police using their overhead lights. Might have saved… Read more »

Russn8r

“Come to the sound of my voice!”

Would you OBEY after you saw police get away with THIS?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBUUx0jUKxc

Daniel Shaver and daughters.png
Last edited 1 month ago by Russn8r
Arny

That video enrages me every time I see it. It’s clear to see why LEOs are being hated with examples of this murderer. He should have fried.

MikeJ.

I believe that the homeowner was guilty of negligent homicide. He shot a uniformed police officer because he didn’t know what he was shooting at. A basic rule violated; identify your target and what’s behind it.

Wass

The shooter was absolutely in the wrong. You must follow the rules of gun safety and think before you shoot. This tragedy makes me cry.

Wild Bill

It is true that one must follow the rules of gun safety and think before you shoot, but following the rules of gun safety is not required by the Texas statute. Nor are “the rules of gun safety” standardized in words or number . Yes, this is a tragedy.

Ansel Hazen

If someone enters my home without my being present to invite them in they are an intruder. No matter what clothing they currently have on.

StreetSweeper

Having served on two juries I would say this was a tough but correct call. All parties, the alarm company, homeowners and police made mistakes. Ultimately homeowners have the right to defend themselves and their property, deadly force in defense of property is legal in Texas. The alarm was in the pool house not the main house, because the door is unlocked is not an invitation to enter, even to police.

Ansel Hazen

One would think Leo would be smart enough to inquire of the alarm company whether or not the homeowner has been called first. Sadly too many with the badge operate under the pretense that badge lets them do as they wish without consequence.

Tank

Tragedy that could be mitigated in numerous ways. Did LEO/Alarm company attempt to contact a homeowner via phone number ?

Entry Officer announced himself. How did he announce himself ? What type of announcement ? How long did he pause before entering-breaching the threshold ?

Was there any communication between Alarm Company & LEA/LEO ?

Lots of grey areas. Clear as mudd.

Tragic outcome that could & should have been avoided.

C J

The alarm company shares some culpability in this case. I do believe it’s the law (or regulation) that the alarm company verify an alarm by contacting the Home Owner before they call the police. Doesn’t sound like they did that.

Wild Bill

Call me old fashion, but I prefer a chainlink fence, and dogs.

Ansel Hazen

I see the potential for the alarm company to start needing to defend themselves from civil suits brought by the Wilsons and Heidelbergs family.

james

Would be great if the alarm company would call the homeowner, when my system goes off in the house and I don’t deactivate it I get an alarm agent on the internal speaker for the alarm system asking me if I’m ok and what is my security password. If I give the panic code word then the police are called for home invasion.

Deplorable Bill

Dean, it was not too long ago when a police officer was called to do a well fair check that was called in by the neighbor. The cop went around the house and saw someone through a window and shot her dead. She was the homeowner. Another terrible accident or a mistake. Manslaughter. In the Phoenix Az area we have/had a group of home invaders who actually wear police equipment. Uniforms, badges, guns, radios the whole nine yards. Announcing who you are and your intentions are the bare minimum in identification especially in the dark of night. If you act… Read more »

Patriot Solutions

I gave ya 2 stars on this one Dean since I just saw those for the first time over on Robs story where my finger accidentally voted him up with 1 star which makes your story certainly worth 2 if he got 1 for setting that trap on me.

Merry Christmas

Patriot Solutions

Could have easily turned in a different direction if the homeowners were awake when the cops showed up and saw them through a window being back lit. Cops are known to shoot homeowners through the window in situation’s like this like that other story you did Dean when Wil/Tex et’al personality’s got all bent out over the facts proving the cop really screwed up, Lol. That case was in Texas. I know you remember. That was when Wil/Tex et’al personality’s said he wasn’t going to read your articles anymore, Lol but rest assured he will be along to strike this… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Patriot Solutions