Midland, TX – The homeowner who fatally shot Midland Police Officer Nathan Heidelberg after officers responded to his home for a burglary alarm in 2019 was acquitted Wednesday.
“David Wilson believed that his family was experiencing a home invasion and only fired his weapon to protect his family,” his attorney, Brian Carney, said shortly after the shooting. “We would like to express our deepest sympathies to Officer Heidelberg’s family and the Midland Police Department for the events that led to his death.”
Wilson, 39, was initially charged with second-degree manslaughter, which was later upgraded to a murder charge, according to the Associated Press.
He faced life in prison if convicted, the New York Post reported.
Prosecutors noted Officer Heidelberg announced himself when he arrived at Wilson’s home in the early morning hours of Mar. 5, 2019.
But a police trainee and a Texas Ranger who responded to the call with Officer Heidelberg said it was possible Wilson, who was hiding inside a closet in the home, hadn’t heard the officer announcing himself, the New York Post reported.
A jury deliberated for about 90 minutes before endorsing Wilson’s self-defense claim Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.
The fatal incident took place at approximately 1:16 a.m. on Mar. 5, 2019, when Officer Heidelberg and Officer Victoria Allee responded to the 3300-block of Eagle Cove for a report of a burglary alarm, the Midland Reporter-Telegram reported.
At the time, Officer Allee was working as a probationary officer, and Officer Heidelberg, a five-year veteran of the department, was her field training officer, KOSA reported.
When they arrived, the officers circled the outside of the residence on foot, and found nothing unusual, according to court documents.
That’s when Officer Heidelberg realized the front door of the home was not secured, and notified dispatch, KOSA reported.
Two other officers arrived at the scene just in time to “hear [Officer] Heidelberg announce Midland Police Department,” court documents read, according to the Midland Reporter-Telegram.
Suddenly, a gunshot rang out.
One officer asked the other three if they were alright, and everyone responded that they were, KOSA reported.
He said he then heard a noise and saw Officer Heidelberg lying face down on the ground.
Realizing that Officer Heidelberg had been shot just above his vest, the assisting officer attempted to deliver life-saving care before the wounded officer was rushed to Midland Memorial Hospital.
Officer Heidelberg succumbed to his gunshot wound at approximately 2:20 a.m.
Wilson later told police that he thought someone was breaking into his home, so he fired in the direction of Officer Heidelberg’s illuminated flashlight.
Midland Police Department (MPD) Deputy Chief Michael Hedrick said that the sudden loss of Officer Heidelberg was a “nightmare” for his department, KOSA reported.
“Words can’t describe how painful it is to lose a friend, lose a colleague, lose one of your subordinates, one of your employees,” Deputy Chief Hedrick said at the time. “You train with these guys, you eat with these guys, you pray with these guys, you know their families. We’re in mourning.”
“It’s very painful. It shocks it right through the bone through the core of our system,” he added.
Officer Heidelberg served the department for five years.
“[He] represented the best in all of us,” Midland Police Chief Seth Herman said in a Facebook post shortly after the shooting. “He was courageous, selfless, ethical and professional.”
“Nathan treated others with respect, regardless of their demeanor or actions. He was a tireless public servant who devoted every ounce of energy to this profession, the citizens and his fellow officers,” Chief Herman continued. “We have lost not only a great officer, but a loving brother and the most positive example of what we should all aspire to be. I wish I was more like Nathan.”