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Policy for questionable death calls revised by Waco PD

Robert Pearson
Posted at 12:55 PM, May 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-07 22:17:59-04

WACO, TX — The Waco Police Department says it'll change the way it responds to questionable death investigations after the death of Robert Pearson.

“Effective immediately, we have revised our procedures to ensure medical personnel from the Waco Fire Department and American Medical Response (AMR) respond to questionable death investigations,” said Waco Chief of Police Sheryl Victorian. “This was a rare and tragic situation, and we are bringing in additional medical resources to prevent this from occurring again.”

On Monday, Waco PD was called out to the Whispering Oaks Apartments for a welfare check on the well-known shoeshine man. Initially, officers were told he hadn't been seen for several days, and that he had passed away. Those first on the scene didn't observe any signs of life when they located Pearson. Neither did Justice of the Peace Pete Peterson, who also declared the man dead.

But when Waco Mortuary showed up a while later, they determined that wasn't the case. He was transported to Baylor Scott & White at Hillcrest Hospital, where he eventually passed away.

Chief Victorian says, "I am disappointed in our initial response to this investigation. While our department policies did not address this specific issue at the time, further investigation and then contacting medical personnel would have been an acceptable course of action."

Chief Victorian says that the city's leadership team worked quickly to gather appropriate resources for future calls such as the one for Pearson.

“This was a highly unusual situation; the responding officers and the entire Waco Police Department are saddened by the passing of Mr. Pearson,” said Chief Victorian. “We wish to extend our condolences to Mr. Pearson’s friends and family.”